HTC VIVE

Virtual Reality Check: Replacing Industry Conferences with VR

March 25, 2020
Using VR to convert an in-person conference into a fully interactive virtual event, replete with avatars.

Events and meetings are stalling around the globe due to the coronavirus pandemic. But for one event, the show would go on.

This year’s HTC VIVE conference (held March 18, 2020) brought the benefits of livestreamed virtual events into focus when it garnered 2,000 registrations from more than 55 countries.

The Vive Ecosystem Conference—renamed the Virtual VIVE Ecosystem Conference (V²EC)—has been an annual gathering in Shenzhen, China since 2016, but was this year taken online in response to the global COVID-19 outbreak. Organizers touted the virtual event as the first major physical industry event to be replaced fully by an interactive VR digital twin.

International speakers showed up to the immersive conference in the form of their own custom virtual reality (VR) avatars—all with the freedom to interact with each other.

Smartphone manufacturer HTC selected the ENGAGE VR events platform from ImmersiveVR Education (IVRE) as the underlying system. The audience was treated to a unique immersive conference experience, while executives and experts from the XR and telecom industry shared insights on the impact of XR on the world. The conference also provided in-depth technical tutorials in VR on new advanced developer tools for the developer community.

“The inability to meet and communicate face to face will be an increasing challenge for the world, but extended reality (XR) can be one solution,” said HTC China president, Alvin W. Graylin. “To stay safe these days, we need to create more distance between people and, conversely, one of the biggest benefits of XR is the ability to remove the perception of distance and boundaries for users.”

The strength of the technology is its ability to overcome the physical barriers and regain a part of the daily life we’ve lost due to the new reality the world faces, note the event organizers. “Working-from-home, distance learning, home-based fitness, immersive entertainment and networked social interactivity will all be part of the new normal in our lives, and made more agreeable if more users could adopt XR technologies.”

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