Notre-Dame experience fuels Orange’s international metaverse aspirations

  • Orange has developed and demonstrated an immersive metaverse experience at the famous Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris
  • The telco claims it has significant interest from tourists and potential business-to-business customers for metaverse-related services
  • It plans to seek partnerships with other operators to take the platform global

PARIS – Following significant interest in its immersive virtual reality (VR)-based metaverse experience depicting the history of the world-famous Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral, Orange is planning to enlist the help of its telco peers to pitch the underlying platform to other potential users.

The operator last week demonstrated to the media the network and metaverse-focused capabilities that underpin the “Eternal Notre-Dame” immersive experience. Now open to tourists and business clients, it uses Wi-Fi connectivity to walk as many as 100 visitors at a time through a 45-minute tour of the construction of the iconic monument, starting in the Middle Ages all the way to its current restoration following the fire in 2019, which saw the cathedral partially destroyed.

The project has attracted more than 60,000 visitors since its launch in January 2022, and now Orange – which donates a third of each €30 ticket to the reconstruction of the cathedral – is looking to expand the service’s features and availability. “We have some discussions with the rest of the world,” including potential partners in North America and Asia, to license the physical version of the VR experience to others that want to offer the same kind of virtual experience, explained Morgan Bouchet, Orange’s global head of XR and metaverse. Orange is currently in discussions with event producers and a tech company.

He added that while discussions regarding international expansion are still in progress, the company hopes to make the experience available in another market at some point during the next year.

And to promote the capabilities and availability of the platform in countries where it does not have its own operations, Bouchet explained that Orange needs to engage with other telcos to further expand its reach. While no discussions are currently taking place, Bouchet said Orange plans to explore potential partnerships with other telcos.  

Apart from visitors being able to experience the Notre-Dame VR demonstration in Paris, the experience will be made globally available (with the exception of China) in the form of a VR app on Meta Quest’s App Lab and the Pico VR store this week.

The telco is also planning to launch in the near future a 5G augmented reality (AR) experience based on its Notre-Dame story to users of social media platform Snapchat.

Bouchet declined to share how much it has cost to develop the immersive experience platform but noted that it took two years and required investment in terms of people, time and money.

He emphasised that the VR immersive experience is part of Orange’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) policy as it contributes money towards the restoration of the cathedral, and shares its innovation with the public.

“It’s not a big investment if we compare it to the impact in terms of CSR, in terms of press coverage and also because we have a business model as well. We invest a lot, but it’s good” that Orange can play a part in the reconstruction of the cathedral, and can have an impact on citizens and tourists with the experience, Orange’s metaverse chief added.

- Yanitsa Boyadzhieva, Deputy Editor, TelecomTV

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