A hitchhiker’s guide to the Metaverse

Na Richard Eisenberg, Other Roads

Every now and then, a new word comes out of nowhere and is immediately thought of everywhere. Currently, the term “metaverse” refers to the use of virtual reality (VR) headsets or augmented reality (AR) eyewear or software to enhance web experience and experience. 3D.

Euromonitor International has named the metaverse movement one of the Top 10 global sellers for 2022 (another in its Top 10: old data).

As you know, Mark Zuckerberg changed the name of his company from Facebook to Meta. He calls the metaverse the next chapter for the web and has spent $ 10 billion in the past year.

But if you’re trying to leave the metaverse, thinking only of technology, kids and video game players, it’s time to – as Steve Jobs likes to say – think Different.

“The metaverse is something that has all the hallmarks of a big picture,” said Janet Balis, a market analysis leader at EY Americas, part of the EY Americas business services division.

A Paradigm Change

It’s kind of changing, he adds, because “the metaverse introduces a whole new dimension to the way we think, act and relate.”

The metaverse is helping older people to live less isolation, have more fun and be healthier. Sickness can increase those benefits for you and your parents.

“We get reports of people in their sixties using this, talking to their grandchildren on the other side of the country, looking at someone’s avatar,” said Rick Robinson, vice president for starting at AARP Innovation Labs and its new AgeTech Collaborative for businesses looking. the 50-plus market. “That kind of socialization can really disrupt life in a positive way.”

AARP has a real -life experience of Alcove where users with Meta’s Quest or Oculus VR headsets “travel” the world and chat with friends and loved ones. Its a free HomeFit supplement for Apple
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You can think of ways to “prove your home in the future.”

Dana Pierce, nutritionist for LifeStream, an Indiana Area Agency on Aging, has been wearing VR goggles for a number of years and loves it.

“Really try,” he said.

Separating personal information can be easy

When his business joined a pilot project with AARP’s Alcove, Pierce recalled, he and others were taken on a journey around the world.

“We took a group of‘ tours ’around Christmas where we went to Prague and Vienna, and it seemed like we were standing right in the streets with music and people walking by. with hot chocolate and their condiments. It’s beautiful. “Pierce said.

They also watched a string quartet play – “like a private concert,” Pierce said – as if they were in a room with musicians.

Pierce said the Alcove VR experience has also helped some people better manage pain and stress because it has reduced their isolation. “They’re much closer,” he said.

Pierce became a VR enthusiast as he played a real fishing game with his son and a friend who they thought were throwing their music on the banks of the Korean River.

Elizabeth White, a Next Avenue Influencer on Aging, was thrilled with her experience with a true Oculus headset and is committed to the potential of VR for older smartphones.

“I went to a beach in Indonesia where I snorkel and I saw fish swimming by me,” he said. The player allows him to watch a movie with someone in a completely different place “but it feels like we’re living together.”

Notes White: “I quickly saw the arrival of older people as a way to enrich the world in which we live and as a way to connect with friends and family.”

He really liked the way VR “gives the opportunity to visit places no one can go, and see things like skydiving or visiting the Louvre. so that no one can work physically and / or financially. “

However, many seniors are in the dark about the metaverse or have no idea about its benefits for them.

In a recent study by marketing research company Toluna, 54% of respondents 55+ hadn’t heard of metaverse and 45% said they didn’t like trying virtual reality. Only 12% of people 50 and over surveyed by AARP said they prefer augmented reality glasses (“smart” glasses that combine 3D images and see what you see. ).

How to enter the Metaverse

An increasing number of older people are likely to enter the metaverse.

That’s because businesses are growing to allow them to “see” their children and grandchildren who live far away, to interact with medical professionals and professionals, to interact with others to their holiday communities and long -term care homes for fun travel experiences and make legacies. by telling their life stories through avatars.

But how do you get into the metaverse and start spending time with other people in a 3D world?

Now, there are two ways.

Some are by buying real goggles or headheads, such as Meta’s Oculus Quest 2 ($ 299) or Sony Playstation VR ($ 399). The other is the purchase of eyeglasses that have been combined or enhanced, according to Microsoft
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HoloLens2 ($ 3,500) or, later this year, Magic Leap 2 ($ 2,300).

However, in the future, VR goggles and AR eyeglasses will be even smaller. That’s what “The AgeTech Revolution” author Keren Etkin told me on a Zoom phone.

“Right now, we need to wear these big smiling glasses. In the future, I can wear glasses like the ones I’m wearing now and talk to you. “Like we have, but instead of looking. You’re on my laptop, you probably see me sitting next to me in my living room,” said Etkin, founder of the website. The Gerontechnologist and a 2019 Next Avenue Influencer in Aging.

Robinson, of AARP, says: “As the cost and size of eyelashes decrease in the form of wearing them and recording your movements, it opens up new opportunities.” He thinks it can be done in a year or so.

In the future, experts say, there will be ways to connect to the metaverse via your phone or television.

Companies such as Rendever, MyndVR, XR Health and Embodied Labs are becoming a popular way for seniors and their caregivers to enter the metaverse for fun, relationships and good health.

Rendever (featured in Next Avenue’s articles “How Virtual Reality Helps Older Adult” and “Ready Player One: How VR Will Reinvent Aging”) uses virtual reality to help overcome isolation and manage loneliness and depression. It serves tens of thousands of residents in about 400 living communities in the US, Canada and Australia.

Through “reminiscence therapy,” Rendever users can feel like they are going back in time and seeing their childhood homes or wedding venues. It has been shown to increase self -esteem and well -being and improve mood for people with dementia. Rendever allows people to take group “outings” to see amazing places around the world.

MyndVR (described in Next Avenue’s “Virtual Reality Offers the Ability to ‘Travel’) also features virtual reality tours designed for seniors, selling for $ 395, which is a title light head and a desk with a library of travel, magic, music, style and video thinking.

MyndVR is also used by hundreds of living communities and skilled nursing offices. He is working with the Stanford University Virtual Human Interaction Lab to see how well VR can help residents in nursing homes and nursing homes reduce isolation for those living with dementia.

At the South Festival in SouthWest, MyndVR unveiled its upcoming MyndConnect reality platform to connect seniors with distant family and friends to the metaverse through immersive mirrors as many Ray-Bans.

Be prepared for trash along the way

XR Health can be defined as a new form of telehealth for people with chronic pain and neurological conditions.

Its medical clinics are using VR and AR – through enhanced medicine, or MXR, tools – to compare people in seven states with physical, medical devices. practice and language pathologists. Fees: $ 69 per week to $ 119 per week; free VR headset.

Embodied Labs (featured in Next Avenue’s “Using Virtual Reality to Get Inside an Ailing Person’s World”) is a VR training platform that helps health care workers and caregivers gain insight for the people they help. people with hearing loss or dementia. By wearing Embodied Labs VR glasses, the user feels like an object he some with health problems.

Pierce encourages those considering running the metaverse to be prepared for bumps along the way until headset-induced nausea occurs in the first place.

When he first tried VR with his team, he recalled, “it can be hard at times, but we laughed at the little things that stand out with the technology.”

To succeed on the educational side, Pierce said, do what he did and see the real Facebook groups that are organized with people over 50. While he spends time with them , He said, “I’ve seen people in their sixties, seventies, eighties and eighties. Few people in their nineties really liked using the head.”

And, Pierce adds, if you find your VR equipment a little sore, change it. “I bought a different rope, so the weight was taken from my face,” he said. “It’s more fun.”

Richard Caro, a scientist, startup CEO and founder of the Tech-enhanced Life service for seniors, appreciates the ideas for the metaverse, even as he fears about its future.

“The power of a better metaverse is to be able to communicate in a real way with people,” he says. “But if we’re not careful, it’s another place to advertise things and take your data and try to sell it to you.”

Gerontechnologist Etkin, however, has a positive idea about the metaverse.

“How good would it be if you could get an avatar of an old loved one who has passed away to tell you their life story in their own voice?” he asked.

Better yet, Etkin said, “I think if we get it right, [the metaverse] It has great power to solve a major problem of aging, which is loneliness and isolation. And I think that’s a good thing. “

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