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Navigating the reality of VR and the Metaverse: 3DOF, 6DOF and Yoonity Explore
While the term ‘metaverse’ has transcended into everyday language, the actual concept remains a bit of a mystery, leading to confusion around what is possible and how it works.
Breaking down some of the terminology and myths around virtual reality and 360˚ immersive experiences, I would like to share some insight on the different types of experiences available.
Let’s start at the beginning, and ask ‘What is a metaverse?’.
As it is a fairly new concept, opinion and definition can vary, but it can be generally defined as ‘a virtual reality space in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users.’
Even the definition can be a little confusing, as a ‘virtual reality space’ immediately conjures images of people in VR headsets, but that in itself is just another term for a computer generated or simulated environment.
Virtual reality can be experienced via laptops, desktop computers, smartphones, tablets and, yes, VR headsets. The level of immersion can vary depending on how you connect, nevertheless, you will feel immersed using any device.
Depending on the type of metaverse you are joining can also change how you join. Some require a specific app while some are open to join from any standard internet browser.
It is worth noting at this stage that any computer generated environment, (where people can join and interact with either content or other people), can be classed as a metaverse. This means there is a vast difference between the types of experiences available. It also means ‘the metaverse’ doesn’t exist as a singular entity, rather a series of entities, some of which are joined, some of which will never meet. Metaverse is a medium to consume content in the same way as movies, for example, and not a ‘destination’ in its own right.
The type of experience you join will also determine how you navigate around the environment to interact with content and other users.
Most people associate the metaverse with a 3D or 360˚ experience, however there are 2D, browser based apps where you control a ‘character’ or ‘avatar’ by using your arrow keys to move and another key or keys to activate content. Interacting with other people is done by entering communal zones or by moving close to another persons ‘avatar’ to activate a video call.
Immersion levels are more restricted in this type of app and, while it is not set in 3D at all, it is still a metaverse.
‘DoF’ stands for ‘degrees of freedom’ and experiences are generally split between 3DoF and 6DoF, which dictates how you navigate and interact in your metaverse.
The prefix indicates the movement you can do, so 3DoF allows you to look up/down, left/right and rotate your head. Effectively, 3DoF is the same as looking around whilst standing still. You can view everything around you, but cannot freely ‘walk’/’move’ to get closer.
3DoF uses two types of navigation to allow you to ‘move’:
- ‘Teleports’ or ‘point to point’ navigation to jump you to the next view in the virtual environment. The points are generally pre-determined, although you can have as many as you like in your experience.
- 360˚ video (actual film or animated) can take you on a journey. You can look around to see the whole environment, but can’t deviate from the ‘route’, as it is effectively placing you in the film. Think of it being a passenger when someone else is driving.
3DoF is presented in a first person perspective, while 6DoF can be either first or third person. 6DoF includes rotation and full movement, allowing users to freely move around and interact with objects, granting full immersion in the experience.
So, 6DoF is better?
Yes and No.
6DoF is undoubtedly the most immersive way to experience a metaverse, but development is often more expensive, as is the user equipment used to take part, often requiring high-end equipment to deliver a seamless user experience.
The hosting servers for 6DoF metaverses also need to be able to carry large bandwidth to enable the experience to run, as the environments are ‘rendered in real time’. This means the software is continually reimagining the space in line with users movement, which in turn can often cause limitations on concurrent users in a specific instance to cope.
Navigation isn’t natural to some people, especially those without gaming experience, where it can be argued 6DoF is currently most effective, and users are also more likely to feel nauseous when using 6DoF (although nausea is normally restricted to headset wearers and is less prevalent in standard browsers).
6DoF excels when it comes to interaction. Objects move in realtime and react to other objects and users in your metaverse. As a simple example, if there is a bottle on a table, you could push it off and see it roll onto the floor, where another user could pick it up and walk away with it.
3DoF experiences lack the free movement, but still carry the ability to immerse you in another world. There is a low barrier to entry, as interactions are easier to use, and you can simply click to ‘jump’ to your next point of view or be ‘in’ the experience as it moves around you, if it has a film or animated background. This allows users to take in each view without needing to ‘walk’ in the metaverse, perfect for anyone without gaming experience.
3DoF environments without film or animated motion content also vastly reduce the likelihood of feeling nausea and, as 3DoF uses pre-rendered scenes, movies or animations as the background, it removes any real time rendering. This means hosting can be easier to run, users won’t require high-end equipment to join and you are able to have mass audiences in one instance.
Interactions are limited to clicking on fixed content, so objects cannot be freely moved around. To pick up on my earlier example, if there is a bottle on a table you cannot move it, but you could click on it to view additional content (for instance, a video can play or a website or app can open in a pop up window) and although users can be in a metaverse ‘together’, they will won’t see the results of someone else’s interaction.
"6DoF is undoubtedly the most immersive way to experience a metaverse, but development is often more expensive, as is the user equipment used to take part, often requiring high-end equipment to deliver a seamless user experience."
Introducing 4.5DoF – an alternative to 3/6DoF
As technology continues to evolve, the possibilities of what can be achieved also accelerates, meaning new use cases and applications become available.
Yoonity Explore has been developed from a 3DoF base, but introduces new ways to interact with objects, content and the environment, creating something new – 4.5DoF.
Our technology allows you to add animated and interactive objects, timed content, collectable items and direct live streaming or video calls, as well as being integrated with external applications, such as e-commerce.
This elevates Explore to being able to create extraordinary experiences not seen before, while retaining 3DoF’s ease of use and ability to host vast, concurrent audiences without the need for specialist or high spec equipment.
This development means the entry level into fully interactive 3D has been lowered, both economically and from a user perspective, making it possible to have your own metaverse destination for your customers to visit, interact with and be absorbed into your brand message. With the ability to continually update your content, it gives your audience a reason to revisit time and again, allowing you to create an online community for your followers to engage with.
To back up the experience, we have a comprehensive analytic system which tracks individuals’ user journeys through the experience, including where they have visited and which items they have interacted with. Our advanced filters allow choosing multiple data views, allowing you to use behaviour driven statistics to monitor the health of your experience and drive further change targeted around user preferences.
While brand activation experiences and immersive live and hybrid events are the obvious use cases for Explore, we are seeing demand rising for tours, training, onboarding, campuses and e-commerce metaverses, each of which we will explore in other posts.
Curious to learn more? Say hello.
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