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From the International President

Updated: Jul 27, 2023

Meet Me in the Metaverse

Cynthia Hirsch Ortiz, RDI

I’m really excited to share news of our upcoming event all about the metaverse.

You might be asking: Is the metaverse really the next big thing? The next step of the internet? Or, possibly you're thinking: Why should it matter to me, I’m a brick-and-mortar specialist.


Actually, the metaverse has been around us for decades – all the way back to the creation of binoculars – to science fiction writers who envisioned goggles that provided sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch. The first use of the word “metaverse” was in 1992’s Snow Crash, a novel where characters fled to a virtual world to escape real-world totalitarianism.


From there, it was game on. Arcades were the place to find Sega’s motion simulator and by 1998, we saw the dawn of overlayed graphics in real-life views when Sportsvision broadcast a live NFL game with a yellow yard marker. Many years later, Nintendo's Wii added internet connectivity and gesture recognition.


Fast forward to now. We hear about virtual worlds in games like Fortnite, Minecraft, and Roblox. And those worlds are the building blocks behind new retail realms. Right, it’s hard to escape the metaverse with brands as diverse as Dior and Walmart making headlines. So, to answer the earlier questions, yes you need to know all you can about the metaverse because it will be integrated into physical stores just as eCommerce and immersive design are today.

That brings us to November 1. We’re planning a hybrid event where those who are able can attend an in-person in Jersey City, N.J. (easy PATH access), while others can join remotely from the comfort of home.


All you need to participate virtually is a desktop, laptop, or tablet connected to the internet, no VR headset is required, though headphones are recommended for the best audio experience.


The virtual event can be accessed by setting up an account via a link we’ll email a week prior to the event – but you need to register! Go here. (No charge for members.) You’ll also be able to design your personal avatar to use during the event and in the future. Registered attendees will be able to explore the virtual environment, network with other virtual and in-person attendees with their avatars, and participate in our presentation about the future of the metaverse.


Keep an eye out for the link to register your account to join virtually and set up your avatar.

I’m looking forward to seeing you, both IRL and in the metaverse!


By the way, I’m also looking forward to seeing everyone (IRL) at Shop! Association Ideation and VMSD's IRDC this week in Columbus! So many Institute members are participating as speakers and moderators!


Cynthia Hirsch Ortiz, RDI International President

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