How Atlanta is wading into the metaverse

Atlanta Meta World
The first location featured in Atlanta Meta World is Centennial Olympic Park (Courtesy Exploring Digital)

The goal of Atlanta’s Convention and Visitors Bureau is to bring people to the area in person.

So why would the organization embark on a project to create a virtual, interactive version of the city?

“The metaverse is a destination and destination marketing organizations should be the early adopters,” said William Pate CEO of the Convention and Visitors Bureau. He says the impetus behind the project is to whet the appetite of prospective travelers.

“If we can at least get them in the metaverse and get them to be able to get around the city and get a flavor for what the city is about, then hopefully they will then travel here more quickly and we can go ahead and book that business,” said Pate.

Companies large and small in Atlanta are beginning to experiment in the metaverse.

From building digital twins of city landmarks to creating virtual apparel, the possibilities seem limitless.

The first environment built in the Conventions and Visitor’s Bureau’s Atlanta Meta World is one of the city’s most distinctive landmarks – Centennial Olympic Park.

Dave Walens heads up the Atlanta-based company Exploring Digital, which created the experience.

“From a technological point of view, we obviously had to make sure that we had all the correct dimensions and details of the park,” Walens said.

He says that gives users a true sense of space.

“We also duplicated as much realism as we could into the fold; so from every tree, every sidewalk and every water foundation was really duplicated to a tee,” he said.

Atlanta Meta World can also be interactive. A sales person, for instance, could host a virtual meeting with clients from around the world.

“They are able to meet in the metaverse in the pavilion and have a full-on presentation, complete interaction and immersion and what we like to call a ‘blended-reality’ where you’re in a virtual space but you really forget that you are,” said Walens.

‘A reflection of their brand’

The metaverse is still relatively new with companies trying to figure out the best way to use it.

Tina Chadwick is with the agency Miller-Zell. The company work with retailers to enhance their in-person experience and, now they’ve started looking to the future too.

“Some of our clients have already started talking to us about it, so we thought it would be good to bring everybody together because it’s such a learning phase we can cross pollinate and even collaborate on how to do that,” said Chadwick.

And so they did. Over the summer, employees from a few dozen companies came together for a presentation called “Getting Versed in the Metaverse.”

Elizabeth Strickler
GSU professor Elizabeth Strickler teaches about the metaverse (Emil Moffatt/WABE)

It featured a presentation by Georgia State University professor Elizabeth Strickler.

After her presentation, Strickler told me she gets why the phrase “digital twin” is used when discussing the metaverse.

“But what I like is sort of a reflection of their brand or their building or themselves or something about their essence,” said Strickler.

She says the metaverse could be huge in the retail world and apparel companies like Gucci and Nike are already getting in on it, creating things you can wear, virtually.

“I think people really care about their avatars and their reflection of themselves just like they really care about their own selves,” she said.

And while leveling-up your virtual style or experiencing a 360-view of a new city can be fun, Strickler says there are also more practical applications for the metaverse too, like data modeling.

“Maybe you could fill a house or a building up with ten thousand avatars and see ‘oh wow, there’s not enough space’ you know, what if we reduced it by 20%?” said Strickler. “So then you can start to visualize what it might look like or feel like.”

She says that could make boring numbers on a page really come to life.

“Pulling data out of databases and making it visual,” she said.

Click here for more episodes of WABE Tech Cast and subscribe today and through your favorite podcast app.