Expo 2020 Dubai Enters The Metaverse World Connecting Millions Across The Physical & Digital Globally

·8 min read

The Expo Dubai Xplorer multiplayer experience features real-time connectivity between on-site and remote users, an interactive digital twin of the 4km2 site, and magical AR spectacles

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates --News Direct-- Magnopus

From today, anyone anywhere can experience the magic of Expo 2020 Dubai with friends and family. The World Expo has teamed up with Magnopus to offer an enriching digital experience for millions of on-site and remote visitors from around the world. Expo Dubai Xplorer sets a new standard for accessibility and inclusivity to large events and expands the World Expo’s vision of ‘​​Connecting Minds and Creating the Future’ into the virtual world of Metaverse.

The multi-player experience is available on iOS and Android powered by cloud-hosted services developed by Magnopus. Unique features include:

  • Real-time connectivity between on-site and remote users across the physical and digital divide.

  • One of the largest deployments in the world of persistent Cloud Anchors which allow millions of on-site visitors to experience AR spectacles aligned accurately to real world locations.

  • A social, interactive digital twin of the 4.38km² Expo site—a living world built from the architectural files of the site and enriched with content and experiences.

Uniting The Physical & Digital

Users can customize their own AI-powered avatar and connect with others in real-time across the physical and digital divide. Standing on the Expo site, a visitor may see a friend from the other side of the world (viewed through the lens of their phone) as an avatar they can share experiences with, and communicate with via group creation and messaging.

On-site hardware will also link the physical and digital worlds. Smart screens called “Digital World Viewers” show views of digital content to enhance the physical landscape for visitors. The desktop application is designed to mimic the capabilities of the mobile applications by connecting to the same cloud services for local content and avatar display.

Expo Dubai Xplorer, powered by cloud-hosted services developed by Magnopus, is now available on iOS and Android.
Expo Dubai Xplorer, powered by cloud-hosted services developed by Magnopus, is now available on iOS and Android.
With Expo Dubai Xplorer, users can customize their own AI-powered avatar and connect with others in real-time across the physical and digital divide.
With Expo Dubai Xplorer, users can customize their own AI-powered avatar and connect with others in real-time across the physical and digital divide.

Augmented Reality Aligned To Real World Locations

By using ARCore Cloud Anchors by Google for hundreds of location-specific activations around the site, visitors will experience entertaining and educational AR content relevant to wherever they are at Expo 2020 Dubai. AR activations including mysterious portals to far-off places, treasure hunts through history, and magical creature encounters are all aligned to real world locations with centimeter accuracy. This is currently one of the largest deployments of ARCore Cloud Anchors in the world.

Geospatial authoring interfaces and global content delivery networks for updating and publishing new content in real-time enable designers to release new interactive AR experiences anywhere on the site during the run of Expo 2020 Dubai. Powered by a set of cloud-hosted services, content is automatically streamed down to the user's device when they approach a location or interact with an experience, without impacting the application’s install size. This enables users to experience any number of magical AR moments, all from a relatively small application on their device, and new or updated experiences can be pushed while the visitor is still in the app.

Remote visitors can access the same AR content and experiences, over a connected digital twin of the site, via an interface similar to popular mobile games like Fortnite or Roblox.

A Live, Social Digital Twin

The digital twin of the Expo site covers more than 200 buildings from the world’s leading architects across a huge 4.38km2 site, including 192 unique country pavilions. Hundreds of artists working around the world spent more than two years creating the living digital replica, enhancing it with dynamic lighting, art installations, animated experiences, and stunning spectacles. Virtual reality was used to collaboratively develop the designs and experiences so they could be tested before the physical site was even built.

The visitor experience geolocates content on the site in real-time, so the digital twin has been built to a high degree of accuracy, at 1:1 scale from the architect’s CAD files, and confirmed with “as-builts”. Due to the size and detail of the site, it can’t be stored on visitor’s devices in its entirety and is streamed to visitors based on their location and proximity. The system also accounts for the performance capabilities of the visitor’s device to deliver the highest quality representation possible.

Ben Grossmann, CEO of Magnopus, says, “This is the biggest space to date, connected across the physical and digital worlds. These ‘connected spaces’ are the building blocks of the new immersive web, or Metaverse. We’ve been working on these kinds of experiences and technologies for many years, and it was thrilling to take things to the next level to bring this grand vision to life with the Innovation and Future Technologies team at Expo 2020 Dubai."

Rehan Asad, Chief Program Officer for Expo 2020 Dubai, says, “The Virtual Expo is an important part of delivering Expo 2020 Dubai’s promise and purpose—‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’. In 2013, Expo 2020 Dubai promised the world to host not only the best ever physical Expo but also the very best virtual Expo. That commitment and COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us to find innovative ways to share the Expo experience and content of our once-in-a-lifetime World Expo with a larger global audience who may not be able to travel from around the world. Magnopus and the wider team have unified the most innovative technologies into one integrated experience that truly brings Expo 2020’s creative vision to life in the digital and virtual world.”

Daisy Leak, the project’s Executive Producer, says, “The global pandemic has affirmed that events can no longer be purely physical, or with only a perfunctory video streaming presence. By uniting 200 countries in a common experience, and making that experience available to visitors both on-site in Dubai and around the world, in an engaging and spatial context, we hope to serve as an example of what the future offers to unite people and places in a better way.”

The multiplayer experience has been in development for nearly three years with world-class partners including Google, Unity Technologies, and Amazon Web Services with key contributions from:

  • REWIND (experience design and platform development)

  • Virtuos (3D asset development)

  • Hexagram (quest narrative design and technology)

  • Pinscreen (avatar technology with AI-driven face synthesis)

  • Dog Studio (web development for Virtual Expo connected to content databases)

  • VIM (BIM conversion technology)

  • Terahard (activation development)

  • Activated Realities (activation development)

  • Source Sound (audio design and development)

Expo Dubai Xplorer is available to download now on iOS and Android.

About Magnopus

Founded in 2013, Magnopus creates experiences and technologies that unite the physical and digital worlds. Magnopus is known for its continuous innovation in the entertainment industry; its Emmy-nominated VR projects; its role as a leader in virtual production through its groundbreaking work on Disney’s The Lion King (2019); and its pioneering work in AR. This year Magnopus acquired REWIND, a UK spatial design and innovation company, to further its mission to merge the physical and digital and lay the foundation for the new immersive web.

About Expo 2020 Dubai

From 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022, Expo 2020 Dubai welcomes visitors from every corner of the globe to join the making of a new world, as it brings together the planet in one place to reimagine tomorrow @ www.virtualexpodubai.com

  • With the purpose of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, Expo 2020 is the world’s most impactful global incubator for new ideas, catalysing an exchange of new perspectives and inspiring action to deliver real-life solutions to real-world challenges

  • Expo 2020 is the biggest cultural gathering in the world, presenting a visually striking and emotionally inspiring 182 days, as more than 200 participants – including nations, multilateral organisations, businesses, and educational institutions, as well as millions of visitors – create the largest and most diverse World Expo ever

  • Expo 2020’s sub themes of Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability inspire visitors to preserve and protect our planet, explore new frontiers and build a better future for everyone

  • For six months, Expo 2020 is be a must-visit family destination, with thousands of events, amazing exploratory experiences, and free entry for children up to age 18

  • Expo is committed to building a more equitable and just world for everyone, while keeping visitors safe by following the latest guidance of the world’s leading medical, science and health experts

  • Expo 2020 is the first World Expo to take place in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, located on a 4.38 sqkm site adjacent to Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai South

  • Built with a meaningful and measurable long-term legacy in mind, the Expo site will transform into District 2020 – a model global community that will rethink the cities of the future – after Expo 2020 closes its doors

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