Testing The Metaverse
Rob is the CTO at Applause, helping leading brands quickly release high-quality digital experiences.
In my last piece, I described the metaverse as an evolution of the internet and a series of evolving standards. The experience of the user becomes central, and the technology must be frictionless.
While “what is the metaverse?” is still a question that can’t easily be answered, almost every industry vertical is thinking about what it means for them. Retailers are looking at ways to embed AR/VR experiences into shopping, as well as the sale of digital products, and media and entertainment companies will have to offer entertainment on new devices and mediums. The gambling industry is grappling with the fact that online casinos do not have to follow the same regulations as in-person options, which will impact the popularity of AR/VR casinos, and the use of cryptocurrency for in-game betting is also sure to rise.
In older, more established industries like travel and auto, AR/VR may be used to virtually tour hotels and test drive vehicles, and in financial services, centuries-old organizations will have to update their technology to ensure functionality with digital payments as well as cryptocurrencies. These digital experiences are coming, if they’re not here already, and companies need to be prepared.
Three Crucial Testing Pillars
I spoke about the importance of usability testing to understand how real users are going to interact with emerging digital experiences, and there are three major themes surrounding the role software testing will play in the metaverse regardless of industry.
• Cybersecurity: The complexity of the metaverse, its indefinable nature, means more pathways to attack and spread. Many companies will struggle to find the developer talent required to support the complexity of a meta experience architecture, let alone do so in a safe and secure fashion. Security testing is already a critical part of the software development life cycle (SDLC) but will need to be advanced to keep up with the evolving tactics of hackers in the metaverse.
• API Testing: APIs are crucial to the interoperability that is foundational for meta experiences. At the same time, new specifications for APIs are coming to market faster than existing ones are becoming obsolete, creating even more complexity. Like any software application, APIs need to be tested to identify problems and to truly understand how the software is being used, and they are going to be critical to support the level of interoperability, flexibility and decentralization required by metaverse experiences.
• Interactive And Immersive Testing: Real people will be core to testing meta experiences as the need for interactivity testing grows. For example, are users able to interact meaningfully and successfully with other users? There’s also a novel need for immersive testing. How much space does the user need for the digital experience, and does it cause motion sickness or headaches? There is an entire ecosystem of “funny fails” on TikTok and YouTube, where AR/VR users crash through their TV screens or windows using headsets. Ideally, we should be able to test to prevent this.
‘In The Wild’ Testing Scenarios
As cross-application experiences become more mainstream and interactions become less dependent on specific devices, “in the wild” testing will become increasingly important for meta technologies.
Interactive testing can be used to test across applications. For example, a retailer can make sure that the three applications you used to shop for the product, purchase it and then schedule delivery are all seamless. Interactive testing can also look at shared experiences and device independence. How do multiple participants in an AR/VR experience interact with each other? How does that change if there are multiple participants on different devices? Does that experience persist when accessed via different devices, at different points in time?
Additionally, accessibility testing can look at how the metaverse is experienced by people with different abilities. Immersive testing can see how much the experience changes when there are other objects within the spatial bounds of the application, helping avoid the possibility of the user becoming the “funny fail” of the week.
While so many of these experiences are yet to come, understanding why digital testing is important, and the many ways it can help ensure these future experiences become seamless, will continue to help prepare organizations to release quality digital experiences in the metaverse.
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