Last week the Blend Team attended the Laval Virtual Conference. For some of us, it was our first virtual conference of this scale and I’m sure it won’t be our last. We wanted to share our thoughts.
Once logged into the platform, users can personalise their avatar (although not yet photo-real from what we could tell) and navigate the conference environment which includes the conference hall, sponsor areas, soccer pitch and even a beach.
Users can teleport between destinations attending events and talks they are interested in or hangout in one of the many communal spaces to catch up with contacts or do some virtual networking.
Additionally there was an XRBASE investor event that took place simultaneously in the VirBELA platform and ENGAGE platform. Immersive start-ups were invited to pitch for 3 minutes each to VC’s during a public pitch event. HTC Vive X were also one of the partners of the investor event and recently used the ENGAGE platform for their developers’ conference back in March.
What do they say?
“In virtual worlds, users feel like they are at a place together and that place is persistent. This helps foster a sense of shared culture and brings back ‘water cooler’ opportunities and unplanned social collisions that just don’t happen on a conference call. We are even seeing people from the same global organization, in different geographies, meeting each other in the world for the first time by happenstance.” - VirBELA Founder and President Alex Howland
“Interest really has skyrocketed over the past eight weeks,” says David Whelan, CEO of Immersive VR Education, which sells the ENGAGE VR training and collaboration platform.. Whelan says that most new demand for his company’s platform has come from companies looking for a more immersive way to carry out daily meetings with remote employees.
Blend Media verdict?
Overall it was a really positive experience. There were some teething problems with those of us not used to the desktop navigation and it was a bit slow at times, but that might have been the wi-fi.
Damian Collier, CEO
I very much enjoyed the experience. I got a great sense of presence both at the panel discussions I attended and reconnecting with professional contacts.
I found the navigation very simple to use, both walking around the event and teleporting using the menu.
I did not try it in ENGAGE in the headset but chose to use the webapp on the laptop - largely because it took place over a few hot days and I preferred not to be in a headset.
Martin Joiret, Senior Product Designer,
I used Laval on Desktop for a couple of hours and was quite amazed by it. There could be slight improvements in the experience and the graphics aren’t probably the prettiest to look at, but it is largely balanced by the feeling of immersion, connection to others and overall excitement I felt while in the campus. Having gamed quite a bit, navigating from a Desktop felt natural and I haven’t had to put any special thought into how to perform basic actions.
Laura Helm, SVP Strategy & Operations
I found the navigation quite tricky at first but once I got the hang of it, I was impressed by how ‘immersed’ I felt. It's not as easy to multitask when in the platform so it really did demand my full attention. I did feel a little creepy listening into other people’s conversations as you walked by however!