The second virtual VR/AR Global Summit is kicking off next week. Here’s what you can expect from immersive technology’s premier online meeting
Kris Kolo, global executive director at the VR/AR Association, on lessons learned, recreating the networking experience, what attendees can expect from sponsors and content, and where progressing in being made in augmented and virtual reality for enterprise
VRWT: This is the second virtual VR/AR Global Summit of the year. Taking an event of this scale online is no mean feat—what lessons did you learn the first time around?
Kris Kolo: The VR/AR Global Summit, hosted by the VR/AR Association (VRARA), in June was a huge achievement, in scope and scale, and our moment to come together as a global community. As an association, we have more than 70 chapters, with members located all over the world. This meant we welcomed almost 12,000 attendees to the live, three-day summit during the summer, and we matched that demand with a 24-hour conference and expo featuring hundreds of speakers, sponsors and exhibitors.
Taking an event online isn’t easy. Servers can and do go down, speakers unexpectedly cancel or reschedule at the last minute, and the demands of a 24/7 event on your team mean they go without sleep. It takes a lot of hard work to make an event successful.
The main lesson learned was around the networking and expo. For the VR/AR Global Summit on 30 September, we’re going to keep those features live throughout the entire event. The speakers and sessions will keep to a US Eastern time schedule, but attendees from all over the world will be able to network and visit the expo whenever they want. That networking time is important to any event, so we wanted to make sure the attendee experience in this regard was not restricted by time zone.
VRWT: Networking is one of the aspects of physical events that is sorely missed. What advice do you have for attendees of the upcoming VR/AR Global Summit to get the best out of the online version available?
Kris Kolo: The best advice I have is to definitely ‘attend’ this event. There are many platforms out there that we all use for online networking, from LinkedIn to Zoom, but live events still stand out as the best way to engage, interact and network, to do actual business. Networking is really important and that’s why we’re using Hopin. This UK-based company raised $40 million in funding in June, which really validates the platform. Crucially, Hopin uses an algorithm that matches attendees of similar interests. We’ll use this feature to recreate speed dating from our physical events. Attendees will have five minutes to talk to the person they’re matched with. It’s an excellent feature that will help with engagement.
We’re also encouraging attendees to fill out their profiles when they register. Their interests will not only be used for networking and matching them with like-minded attendees, but also the schedule. We’ll use their interests to develop a customised schedule of content that they may want to experience. This way, we can help attendees to navigate an agenda already featuring more than 100 speakers.
VRWT: What can attendees expect from your line up of sponsors?
Kris Kolo: HP will be making product announcements—I don’t know what they are! I can tell you that there will be both hardware and software announcements. Those will be made on 30 September, the first day of the summit. Microsoft and Lenovo are sponsoring and exhibiting, so attendees can expect to hear lots of news from them.
We’re also welcoming trade delegations from Canada, the UK and South Korea, which are each bringing 10 vendors. They’ll be based in their dedicated virtual pavilions.
VRWT: How would you describe the content planned for this global summit?
Kris Kolo: This global summit is very content-driven and will have a little bit of everything. It’s an enterprise show, a storytelling show, even an entertainment show. What really stands out with all of these verticals coming together is that we’ll have attendees from, say, the mining sector meeting storytelling experts. They’ll be able to meet and begin work on creating engaging immersive solutions.
I’m looking forward to hearing from Southern Company, a large energy company in the US, and Lufthansa Cargo. Felix & Paul Studios will be there to talk about the International Space Station experience. We’ll also hear from a young producer and director who filmed at a George Floyd protest on the front line using virtual reality.
VRWT: Finally, it’s been a difficult year for everyone, but immersive technology has been thrust into the spotlight like never before. Where are you seeing the most progress being made?
Kris Kolo: Healthcare is seeing a lot of progress in immersive technology. Virtual medicine is a must right now. Virtual reality is proving to be a valuable tool for vulnerable people such as the elderly, who are turning to immersive solutions to deal with isolation. The not-for-profit, AARP, has developed a virtual reality solution for exactly this use case and will be presenting it during the summit.
Another area seeing progress is training. We have a member, Immerse in the UK, that has secured a contract with BP, which has deployed Immerse’s platform across its entire organisation. We’re not just talking about pilots anymore.
The online VR/AR Global Summit is taking place from 30 September until 2 October. Tickets start at $44 for members and $55 for non-members. VRWorldTech will be attending and covering the event as a media partner. Subscribe for all the updates from the event!
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Main image: Kris Kolo’s avatar