After news of their metaverse wedding reception went viral, Dinesh SP talks to TNM about planning his virtual reality wedding.

Collage of Dinesh and Janaganandhini in real and with their virtual avatars
Features Technology Wednesday, January 19, 2022 - 13:29

Picture this: a traditional wedding takes place in Tamil Nadu’s Krishnagiri district. Nadhaswarams blare in the backdrop and guests ecstatically throw flowers and rice on the couple, as the groom brings the yellow mangalsutra closer to the bride’s neck and ties it around her. The guests and the newlyweds then walk to the dining area to polish off hot rice, sambar, rasam and other accompaniments from the wedding feast. But what next? The events that follow will really tease your imagination.

Clad in their veshti and saree, the bride and groom enter a temperature controlled room, put on their Virtual Reality (VR) headsets and enter their wedding reception, hosted - wait for it - in a parallel virtual universe called the ‘metaverse’. Their guests too will create their avatars and enter the wedding venue, created entirely using virtual and augmented reality. No, this isn’t the plot of a sci-fi film — this virtual wedding reception is soon set to turn into reality. Dinesh SP (24) and Janaganandhini Ramaswamy (23) from Tamil Nadu will, on February 6, host their wedding reception in the ‘metaverse’, making it the first of its kind in India. Their wedding has created a lot of buzz across the country. Speaking to TNM, Dinesh spills the details on their wedding, 

Right now, the metaverse is the hottest topic in the world of tech. Big Tech CEOs including Mark Zuckerberg (Meta) and Satya Nadella (Microsoft) are calling ‘metaverse’ the future of the internet. Metaverse is in its nascent stages right now, but across the world, technology firms including Microsoft, Autodesk, Samsung, Meta etc. are silently building what they call the ‘next internet’. 

So what exactly is it? The metaverse is an immersive cyberspace experience; WIRED defines it as “a ‘persistent virtual world that exists even when you’re not logged in.” It is built using VR and Augmented Reality (AR). It will encompass our entire current digital spectrum of usage, add our social media handles, mobile apps, online video games, and create a digital economy to operate it. Just like in the real world, we will be able to make, buy and sell products by turning them into NFTs (non-fungible tokens). Right now, what can and cannot become a reality with the metaverse is unclear. 

“The Metaverse is going to be our future. Samsung has already opened a store in the metaverse where people can visit using their avatars and buy their products. Microsoft is developing teams so that companies can hold office meetings in the metaverse. Facebook has a slew of ideas for the metaverse,” says Dinesh, who is a Project Assistant in the IIT Research Lab, and a blockchain enthusiast in his free time. The blockchain is the base on which the metaverse is created, and also the technology on which digital features such as NFTs, and cryptocurrency is traded on. Working in this field for a year now, Dinesh realised that the metaverse will take many more years to be developed in countries like India, as compared to the west. “I wanted our people to get a taste of the future, and that’s how my fiancee and I came up with the idea of a metaverse wedding,” Dinesh tells TNM. 

After Zuckerberg announced metaverse, several critics warn that it has been wildly overhyped as the immersive future of the internet. Even if it does succeed in becoming so, several practical challenges to the concept have been flagged. The metaverse could also be an extremely difficult space to police, creating a law and order nightmare. 

Guests can enter with digital avatars, gift crypto currency

Dinesh says that it was the pandemic that gave him the idea to host the wedding virtually. “A Zoom wedding could have been done, but the metaverse is much more exciting and it imitates reality better,” he says. For example, guests can log in and create their digital avatars and enter the hall, they can talk to other guests as well as the newlyweds. “Guests who are closer to you in the metaverse can be heard louder, and as they move away their voice fades, just like in real life,” Dinesh explains. 

Dinesh's virtual avatar created by Tardiverse

Dinesh got the idea in December 2021, right before he proposed to his fiancee, Janaganandhini. Soon after, he contacted Chennai-based web and app development start-up Quatics Technology. On listening to Dinesh’s requirements, Quatics put together a team of 18 people to create the wedding venue in metaverse as well as the virtual identities of the bride and groom. “It was a month-long project and they set up a separate company called Tardiverse to work on the metaverse wedding,” Dinesh said. As the duo are self-proclaimed Potterheads, it made sense to have a Harry Potter themed wedding reception. “The wedding hall is designed exactly like the Hogwarts Great Hall. You will see dementors, Harry Potter characters and a bit of wizardry and fantasy in the wedding hall,” Dinesh says with excitement. After taking Dinesh on as a client, Quatics has now set up a separate company, Tardiverse, which will exclusively focus on metaverse events. 

Just like a regular wedding, Tardiverse is working with Dinesh to iron out all the details for the virtual wedding reception like designing the right outfits to picking out the decor and flowers for the wedding hall. The only thing that guests will miss out on is food, says Dinesh with a laugh. “We don’t have the tech to make food available yet. But I am sure that it will happen soon,” he adds. Most importantly, guests can shower the newlyweds with blessings and gifts digitally. “We accept cryptocurrency as gifts, and we will offer a UPI link for guests,” Dinesh says. 

Meanwhile, much of the wedding reception planning remains a surprise for Janaganandhini. “She works in the IT field and was thrilled by the idea, but she is not into blockchain tech and unfamiliar about the metaverse. It will be exciting to see her reaction,” Dinesh says. 

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