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Embracing Digital Transformation with the Metaverse; An exclusive interview with Journee Co-Founder, Christian Mio Loclair
Summary of the blog post
Explore how the Metaverse could change the Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Events (MICE) sector. Discover more in this exclusive conversation with Christian Mio Loclair, Co-Founder of Journee – the Berlin based Metaverse startup at the forefront of this new field – who recently has a new feature with OpenAI chatbot ChatGPT 4 and learn about their innovative solutions for the events of tomorrow.
As the world seems to move closer to a hybrid event model, the tech MICE solutions of today appears not enough to meet the ever-evolving demands of our industry. At the 2023 ITB Berlin, we had the chance to meet with Christian Mio Loclair online, Co-Founder of Journee – the Berlin based Metaverse Company that is aims to transform the event and creative landscape by providing innovative solutions. The company recently integrated the functionality of ChatGPT4 from OpenAI into Journee Metaverse Worlds to equip the hosts of their digital shows with precise guidance information and sales conversations mechanisms. Learn about their innovative solutions for the events of tomorrow.
In this exciting conference atmosphere and amidst packed halls, we discussed how the Metaverse events might significantly alter everything.
We began by addressing the Key question of what the Metaverse even is.
Christian Mio, what is the Metaverse?
“For us, the Metaverse is a virtual experience that takes place online and enriches the classic notion of text, still images and video on the internet by allowing us to experience each other and certain topics together. “
We looked further, attempting to stretch our imagination, and discovered a further scientific explanation. According to Matthew Ball, the author of "The Metaverse: and How It Will Revolutionize Everything”, Metaverse is a combination of many different technologies. It is a massively scaled, interoperable network, real-time rendered 3D virtual worlds which can be experienced synchronously and persistently by an unlimited number of users while supporting continuity of data such as history, identity, communication. This general definition of the Metaverse is not fully applicable to Journee's, as their Metaverses products are tied to events
Can you explain to us how we can experience the virtual world, Christian?
Imagine if you search for a link about Berlin on social media. Once you click on it, you are immediately on Kurfürstendamm where you may meet people from all over the world and take in the city's sights, a sense of the scale, the atmosphere, and the weather. In addition, you can just copy that link and send it via WhatsApp to a different friend. Then you say, "Let's walk a few meters and take a look around.” If we like it here, we can then have a group experience. In which case we might have a case for Berlin Metaverse experience where you open the city to the entire world. Not as intense and social then going to Berlin in person, but it would be much more global, shareable, scalable and attract new audiences.
Why did you establish the Metaverse startup in Berlin?
Thomas Lorenz and I jointly founded a design studio named Waltz Binaire and I built the first AI Sculpture Helin. In the pandemic's early stages, we were actively experimenting with design, technology, and artificial intelligence. Moreover, we observed that whenever we came across anything that we believed to be especially remarkable, we were unable to locate a genuine communication route where people could engage with it. Therefore, our only options for sharing intriguing content are Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.
We want to exhibit our products that have been impacted by the pandemic, and we built a digital museum. We then got approached by leading brands such as BMW. We thought it would be nice to create other meeting spaces and "islands" of course, during the pandemic when people could not meet each other. Therefore, we looked for spaces where people could engage with a certain topic together, such as digital art, contemporary history Berlin, or products. Then, we began experimenting with these technologies.
We developed our software toolkit to help during the pandemic when events were cancelled and constructed the necessary software pipeline.
What further applications of the Metaverse are possible?
And how might they affect the (MICE) meetings, incentives, conventions, and events sector?
In the beginning we developed our software toolkit to help during the pandemic when events were cancelled. We constructed the necessary software pipeline and started with a Siemens employee congress in 2020, followed by a business conference called the House of Beautiful Business and Bitkom. Due to the experience, we gained operating in the fast-changing environment, we had a unique opportunity to create something new for BMW, as the International Motor Show Germany (IAA) was canceled. I'm strongly convinced that we generated true value to our clients, lasting relationships and see today a great rise of hybrid principles in which the MICE sector is playing with digital and physical intersections.
What kind of feedback have you received?
From the initial users of this Metaverse-as-a-service solution, including the early adopters?
We encountered difficulties with parts of the audience that had fewer touchpoints with Metaverse. However, over the years, we could observe a learning curve even for those individuals; they got used to navigating virtual environments.
We place a lot of importance on the fact that you can enter these worlds using any device, not only virtual reality goggles, so when it comes to access, as of right now, getting people online to participate in events is the most crucial thing. Now, the most important thing is that if people are interested in attending this conference online, they really can log in directly without having to buy additional devices. Our experience has to work from a cell phone as well as from a desktop computer and workstation or on the bus and that is very important to us. Users sometimes stay for hours online participating, while having a walk in the park or meet on the beach beforehand, of course, and therefore we need to deliver to the highest possible quality, for maximum appeal.
With our metaverses, we aim to reimagine how consumers might interact with brands, make those interactions immersive, and assess consumer engagement through the lens of memorable experiences.
What distinguishes Journee from others?
The main difference between Journee from others is the beauty of the worlds that makes people stay in. If I could take an example from our previous work. With the BMW project Joytopia for the International Motor Show, the audience had a personal entertainer Christoph Waltz who appears as a Fox Avatar, where he could speak to many audiences individually at the same time. Another example the audience experienced Coldplay's performance and it was our small conference that allowed anyone from around the world to immerse themselves in a BMW World.
With our metaverses, we aim to reimagine how consumers might interact with brands, make those interactions immersive, and assess consumer engagement through the lens of memorable experiences. Yes, we worked with WWF, Siemens, visitBerlin, H&M, and others as well and through this, we have a lot of experience.
Looking back, what challenges did your business face in the past and in the present?
We wanted to make the Internet a bit more exciting and give it more feeling – a pleasant “space” to be. However, if you look at social media, then it is easy to see that there are many design principles applied which users do not really benefit from. When we first shared our ideas to build a more beautiful internet – many of our clients couldn't follow us and many of our new employees weren’t able to understand the philosophy of this business model. This has generally changed once we were able to invite and onboard our partners to experience our technology for themselves, and mostly excited them a lot. When scaling such a company globally with offices in Cape Town, New York, Stockholm, Dubai, and Berlin then it is necessary to scale also the vision, the idea, and philosophy and I believe we did a decent job here.
How can destination management organizations and event organizers leverage the Metaverse?
Talking about Berlin, the city could be virtually scouted by event organizers without having to travel there, to physically visit sites and locations required for a successful conference. This would naturally be a positive development as it would decrease costs, increase efficiency and reduce carbon footprint. But it would also allow one to inspire people to choose this city as a venue. I don’t believe that fewer people would want to visit Berlin, but rather that more people would be specifically inspired to visit, invest and host new hybrid and hence more sustainable event formats in Berlin.
What incentive structures could be required to promote the adoption of the Metaverse?
I believe that the most crucial thing for stimulation is to implement digital measures on a two-fold basis, meaning that as soon as a person enters or becomes a part of this Metaverse world, they must be able to see the benefit in both the virtual and physical worlds.
For instance, if someone explores the visitBerlin Metaverse and discovers that there are NFTs about Berlin exclusively just there, it would be sufficient justification for users to use the virtual experience platform. If it might additionally be possible to win a flight lottery to Berlin for example this can make it possible to reach and have data of more than 10,000 people without incurring significant costs. This experience can serve to spread attention around the world about the significance of the city of Berlin.
This, in my opinion, is huge and you must consider both sides of the challenge. At the same time, Metaverse worlds must be treated differently than traditional Social Media strategies and must offer genuine digital and real-world individual benefits.
" The Metaverse" itself is just a term that will constantly evolve. The Internet is undoubtedly growing, new currencies are appearing, and new experiences are evolving. It is a place where experience spaces, like Social Media, are gradually losing their value and being replaced by new ones all of a sudden.
What is your prediction for the future and what should companies do to be early adopters?
In the event of digitalization, I believe you should act quickly.
But in my opinion, the phrase " The Metaverse" itself is just a term that will constantly evolve. The Internet is undoubtedly growing, new currencies are appearing, and new experiences are evolving. It is a place where experience spaces, like Social Media, are gradually losing their value and being replaced by new ones all of a sudden, precisely like the traditional product life cycle of new technologies. Since these changes are occurring so quickly, understanding them is becoming increasingly essential.
For instance, companies should establish task forces, which are independent working groups that only address current themes and innovations. The task force should filter and implement innovation into the business. It is crucial, in my opinion, to identify company members who are enthusiastic about the subjects and hire independent experts to research them. I advise everyone to try out, participate rather than watch, and of course, let others know you are trying.
Last but not least, how would you describe Berlin in your own words?
And if you could build a Metaverse world based on Berlin, what would it look like?
My home is Berlin, and if I had more creative time, I would claim that the Berlin Metaverse would only be just right if every morning it brought something new. For example, I invite my friends and tell them “Let's go there, last time was exciting”, when we get there, there is nothing more, you have to go back and search for what you are looking for again
Berlin represents the embodiment of change to me. Berlin would be the Metaverse metropolis that had to constantly move and change as I was moving.
To summarize, knowing the Metaverse is an aspiration and a hypothesis rather than a comprehensive, crystal-clear vision of the future. The emergence of the Metaverse has the power to transform a variety of aspects of daily life, including commerce, education, and entertainment. The Metaverse may also significantly influence destination, the Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, and Events (MICE) Industry. Creating the Metaverse involves several challenges. These include challenges with processing capacity, bandwidth, and security; energy consumption, issues with the copyright law, culture, and privacy; and the expense of developing complex virtual worlds. Furthermore, it is critical that people feel secure and comfortable interacting in virtual environments.
The Metaverse can present a distinctive opportunity for destination organizations and tourism companies to market the city. DMOs can highlight the city's unique features and rich cultural legacy by developing virtual tours, events, and exhibitions. Event planners can also arrange virtual conferences, meetings, and events using the Metaverse, which gives them access to a larger audience. You may see examples of the city's implementation Metaverse - Hybride Conference “Berlin questions 2021 – Metropolis: The new now”, our Meeting Guide 360 Location virtual guide or explore Berlin past virtually with one of our incentives providers Timeride.
About Christian Mio Loclair
Christian Mio Loclair is a German artist who has been dancing and coding since 1994. He began his professional career as a performer and choreographer in 2001 and has since become a renowned figure in the field of art and technology, with a strong focus on artificial intelligence. In addition to his work in dance and performance, Mio studied computer science at the University of Potsdam, specializing in media technology and human-computer interaction.
His interdisciplinary background at the intersection of poetic communication, body movements, algorithms, and data has inspired numerous artworks that explore the encounter of man and machine. Mio is the Founder of Waltz Binaire, a new media design studio that focuses on Artificial Intelligence, and the Co-Founder of Journee, a Web3.0 Metaverse Company.
Mio’s work combines and reflects his expertise and experience as a computer scientist, visual artist, choreographer, and dancer. He creates sculptures, video works, and installations that continuously portray the aesthetics and frictions of both human and digital identity. Using custom algorithms, data, and digital devices, Mio explores the contrast between natural phenomena and data-driven algorithms, examining the creative and societal potential of artificial intelligence.
His works have been presented at several prestigious venues, including the Today Art Museum, ars electronica, MCAM, Center Pompidou, Design Museum London, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, EPFL Pavilion, Le Pavillon Namur, and ZKM. Mio continues to live and work in Berlin, where he focuses on developing novel aesthetic identities that derive from the interplay of mathematical and poetic research.
Thank you for the interview!
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