Sethu Nair (ThinkPlace) on good design in the metaverse

Imagine a virtual world where people live, work, shop and interact with others, all from the comfort of their sofa in the physical world. Welcome to the Metaverse, one of the hottest technologies of the next decade. Sethu Nair, Business Designer at ThinkPLace, explains why good design will be key to securing the benefits of the Metaverse’s future.

At ThinkPlace, we help our clients solve some of the world’s most complex challenges using design-driven, human-centered approaches. Our work is rooted in demystifying what the future of technology looks like – which increasingly includes the metaverse.

Our approach to the metaverse space is to be proactive and preventative. It’s about getting ahead and exploring the potential – both good and bad – of this emerging technology. We do this to ensure good design as a way to ensure inclusion is a priority as we embrace this new world.

For example, ThinkPlace recently organized the Mega Events Discovery Forum alongside the Australian National University (ANU) on behalf of MegaCRC. Here, we explored what the metaverse might look like in the context of large-scale events.

The forum explored how we can unlock the potential of mega-events – events with over 10,000 people – through new technologies. As we approach the Brisbane 2032 Olympics, we have explored how we can integrate virtual reality or augmented reality and enter new forms of massive event experience. The underlying goal being – how do we ensure that we navigate the metaverse in an inclusive, equitable, and accessible way?

Advances in the integration of new technologies have always been led by large technology companies. Take, for example, smartphones and how they have evolved to become an extension of our daily routines. Through them, we get a relative idea of ​​what social transformation and social consequences may look like. This presents an opportunity to learn from the systems already in place and to reverse engineer them to be more human-centric.

We can use complex systems design to lay the foundation for a human-centric future in the metaverse.

Maximize returns from events

In our future-seeing practice, there are futures that are preferable and futures that are probable. Sometimes they line up – and when they do, it’s great! But in cases where this is not the case, our job is to facilitate cultural and societal change from state to state by raising awareness and changing regulations.

In collaboration with the 3A Institute, we explored research in cybernetics, examined the interface between humans and technology, and understood how systemic changes may affect our future. In order to preserve a lasting legacy of large-scale integrated events, it is necessary that our approach examines the intersections of human-centered engagement and the implementation of technologies that serve connectivity, security, user engagement and optimization.

Recently, we hosted a workshop with the Singapore Government’s Open Innovation Partnership in response to the question “How can we use Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality to improve workplace safety, productivity and training?” The workshop served as a springboard to discuss how we might effectively implement and realize augmented and virtual reality technologies in the built environment space.

Sessions of this nature bring together people from different areas of expertise to envision a future that takes into account their respective experiences and challenges. This allows for collaborative thinking that pushes the boundaries of what is possible while creating a more holistic representation of our contemporary landscape.

We also conducted a workshop in partnership with the franchise restaurant Han Bao Bao, in response to the question “What does the restaurant of the future look like?” “. Dive into the opportunities, limitations and potential that technology can have across different levels of business practice.

The future is both something we’re moving towards by bringing people together, but it’s also something we need to keep our eyes peeled for whatever is happening. We keep our approach broad and adaptable to uncertainty.

As we head into what is often promised as a game-changing part of our future, the Metaverse, these principles are important to keep in mind. We must continue to work towards a preferable future and do all we can to make it equally likely.

The fact is, no one knows for sure what the future will look like. But the future doesn’t happen by chance – we can (and must) be active participants. We have the power to strategically prepare for different possibilities and adapt accordingly, with the ultimate goal of participation by everyone, everywhere.


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Rozella J. Cook