Next time you put on a virtual reality headset, you may find yourself feeding penguins in Antarctica, shopping in your favourite store or even making new friends. These are just some of the exciting experiences being brought to users by the startup DWorld, launched in March 2021 in Monaco.

Manila Di Giovanni and Christian Bertelsen are the brains behind this new business. Both graduates from the International University of Monaco (IUM), they hope to create a parallel universe, combining the video-gaming world with aspects of our everyday lives.

“Through the eyes of their made-up avatar, users can virtually visit different places all over Monaco. Take a shopping trip, visit a museum or go to different events,” explains Manila Di Giovanni, CEO of DWorld.

Visit a museum or even your next apartment

At the moment, the startup is working on a project for the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation. They hope to give users the chance to get up close to Antarctica’s wildlife and interact with penguins.

This new technology is not encouraging people to stay at home, in fact, it is doing quite the opposite. By rolling it out in other countries, more people will want to come and visit Monaco, or at least imagine themselves being here.

Manila Di Giovanni, CEO and co-founder of DWorld

These virtual spaces will also allow estate agents in the Principality to offer virtual apartment tours, as well as extend their reach to an international audience. “In Asia, many internet users have access to virtual reality, for example in South Korea,” says the Italian entrepreneur, deeply inspired by the semester she spent studying in China.

Manila Di Giovanni hopes to use virtual reality to build a better world / © Alizée Mosconi

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Broadening horizons

“This new technology is not encouraging people to stay at home, in fact, it is doing quite the opposite. By rolling it out in other countries, more people will want to come and visit Monaco, or at least imagine themselves there for a moment,” says Manila Di Giovanni. “Not everyone can afford to travel!”

Virtual reality could allow students from developing countries to attend classes at universities on the other side of the world.

Manila Di Giovanni, CEO and co-founder of DWorld

Aiming to make everyone’s daily life a little better, this startup wants to build a better future for all of us. In the long run, DWorld hopes to revolutionise education as we know it. “Virtual reality could allow students from developing countries to attend classes at universities on the other side of the world,” says Manila Di Giovanni.

According to the businesswoman, this digital platform will be an accepting space where people can learn a lot about other cultures. DWorld has created a multiplayer mode, where users can meet each other, share their thoughts and “maybe even become friends.”

A virtual model of Monaco

Whilst also undergoing a digital transformation, the Principality is creating a 3D model of the country. “A real sandbox simulating many parts of Monaco, particularly places in the city centre, helping us to make  urban policy decisions,” explains Cyrille-Rainier Boisson, Head of the digital twin project led by the Smart City team, which was put together in 2019 as part of the Extended Monaco programme.

These virtual reality spaces could become the latest way to discover Monaco and people all over the world could use them to view many of the Principality’s digital projects.

Cyrille-Rainier Boisson, Head of the digital twin project led by the Smart City team

As of now, the model includes around 1,500 buildings in Monaco, but it needs regularly updating, since the Principality’s landscape is constantly changing.

“These virtual reality spaces could become the latest way to discover Monaco and people all over the world could use them to view many of the Principality’s digital projects,” says Cyrille-Rainier Boisson. “Traders and service providers could also get involved.”

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