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Alan Smithson, Creating Mixed Reality (XR) experiences to connect and engage

The following excerpt is transcribed from the Zoom event that took place on 7 May 2020.

Key points

  • The key difference between Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) is that AR simulates artificial objects in the real world while VR simulates an environment where users can be transported into. 
  • Creating 3D content is still very complicated and difficult for non-coders to make something valuable. MetaVRse identified this limitation and embarked on a mission to democratise content creation so that when this technology becomes more widely available, content can be produced as quickly as possible. 
  • Aside from being a technological trend, recent events have made the necessity of virtual interactions and experiences real considerations.


Alan is CEO of MetaVRse. MetaVRse is a global virtual, augmented and Mixed Reality (XR) consulting and product development company. They are building a mixed reality marketplace for learning and training, business and education. He is an independent global advisor on the business of Mixed Reality to a select group of the world’s largest companies, Chief Investment Advisors, advisors, and ultra-high net worth family offices.

Alan’s accolades also include being the Co-Founder of Ignite Community Hub and Hyper Accelerator, as well as the host of the XR For Business Podcast, and a TED speaker.

Virtual Reality (VR)  – What is it?

“The future of how we’re going to communicate is in these goggles.” – Alan Smithson

Virtual Reality uses computer technology to create a simulated environment, where users can be placed inside the experience and interact within a 3D world. To do this, users will put on a head-mounted display along with some form of input tracking. This can be further enhanced by stimulating vision, hearing, touch and even smell, allowing users to become more fully immersed into the artificial world

What is the difference between Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)?

The fundamental difference is that Augmented Reality simulates artificial objects in the real world while Virtual Reality simulates an environment where users can be transported into.  

In Augmented Reality, sensors and algorithms are used to control positions and orientations of a camera. 3D graphics are then rendered by AR technology and superimposed over the user’s view of the real world – digitally altering their experience.

In Virtual Reality, the user is completely shut out from the physical world and removed from its experience while replacing it with an entirely artificial one. Instead of having a computer locate a camera, similar sensors and algorithms are used to detect the user’s eyes so that the graphics react according to how the user’s head turns in order to create a believable, interactive world.

Democratising content for the evolution of business, collaboration and education

Creating 3D content is still very complicated and the biggest obstacle to the adoption of this technology is that there is no standardisation. This makes it difficult for non-coders to make something valuable. 

MetaVRse identified this limitation and embarked on a mission to democratise content creation so that when this technology becomes more widely available, content can be produced as quickly as possible (more on this here). An interface was created based on the belief that the future of this technology is on the web and with this program, coders and non-coders alike can easily build projects that would normally not be possible.

The evolution of business

The McKinsey Global Institute predicts that by 2030, “between 400 million and 800 million individuals around the world could be displaced by automation and need to find new jobs.

To combat this, more tools will be needed to rescale and upskill people. This may be in the form of remote customer assistance where augmented reality is used through an app or camera, allowing the assistant to see and interact in the user’s world.  

As more businesses make a move online, virtual tools can also help consumers make better buying decisions. Mixed Reality will allow users to have one foot in the real world and the other in a simulated environment, enabling people to interact with both physical and simulated items and environments. This will change how products are showcased and how customers can interact with them. From virtual trials to corporate presentations to marketing events and campaigns, any product can be presented in a 3D form and users can interact with it in real-time.  

The evolution of collaboration

We may see a change in collaboration and design that allows people to work together while not together. As we’ve witnessed the move from in-person to remote meetings in recent events, virtual reality could take this further and enable users to build a new car or work in a science lab, side-by-side in virtual space.

The evolution of education

Mixed Reality can change how we learn by giving us more hyper-personalised, hyper contextualised information. The seamless integration of technology could project 3D digital data (through glasses) into the user’s world just as quickly as they question the objects around them – this could allow for us to look at anything around the world and learn about it very quickly.

VR in a Post-COVID world

Aside from being a technological trend, recent events have made the necessity of virtual interactions and experiences real considerations. With the possibility of touchscreens and real-life samples not being as appealing to a consumer, the simulation of touching or feeling something may be replicated through haptic vibrations. Product visualisers that don’t require glasses may also be more widely utilised and marketing experiences could be brought to life at the pointing of your phone.

In a world that is quickly changing people’s habits and how objects are being interacted with, we’ll very likely see different kinds of technologies being used to communicate and connect with people.



What are the standard 3D formats that will be supported in the MetaVRse web-based builder platform? 

There are 40 different formats that we use, but the 3 overall standards we’re seeing right now are GLTF, OBJ and FBX. Some resources for 3D models that can be imported into the environment:

If we have existing models with animations set up, can we import those animations along with the model? No animations are importance. Each mesh in your 3D scene has a unique identifier and you can drop it into your code to animate it in any way you want.


You mentioned an interest in education. With technology that has so many applications across multiple industries, is there one market you are/will be focused on?

Because we’re a development engine that can literally enable millions of websites, we believe that we are going to be the WordPress of XR.

There are not a lot of companies that have the ability to let anyone build 3D models and seamlessly embed them directly into a website and this allows people to start thinking in terms of 3D websites where you manipulate objects and move around in a scene.

We don’t want to pigeonhole ourselves into the industry right now. Having said that, we are focusing a lot on the telecommunication sector, mainly because they have such a broad reach and we believe that a lot of [them] have programmes where they support schools and school systems. So, we’re really leveraging that in those relationships to bring this to as many schools and students as possible.

10% of the company is owned by a Trust, and the Trust’s mission is to democratise education globally by 2040. So, our mandate is that for every pro-licence that we sell with our platform, we give one educational licence away. That’s our ‘Why’ and our industry.

Further reading

To see all our speaker Future Of Now book recommendations click here.


More about Alan Smithson and MetaVRse


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More about the organisations connected to this event

  • morespaceforlight.com.au – A strategy and innovation consultancy specialising in both in-person and/or remote workshops, design programs and Design Sprints.
  • MURAL.COheaps of new templates and tools. Sign up it is brilliant.
  • spacesworks.com – globally located co-working spaces.
  • hacker.exchange – a global education company that is supercharging the next generation of startups & leaders.
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