Conferences, Presentations and Interaction with Peers in Virtual Environment
Yesterday, I attended 3D Virtual Forum ("Forum") on Sustainable Energy at Leonardo ENERGY. The Forum contains 3D virtual model of a conference venue, complete with main lobby, exhibition halls and conference rooms. Joining the forum is free and while it is open to visitors at any time, there are times with scheduled event that give the visitor a greater chance to interact with other participants in informal atmosphere.
It was and an interesting experience and I would like to share some observations.
Prior to joining the forum, it is necessary to install the program on one's computer, which is very straightforward and should not take more that 10 minutes:
- Download the program (~20MB download size).
- Install the program using Windows installer.
- Create your login credentials and login into the program.
- Now you are ready to start exploring the virtual environment in the forum.
Inside the Forum
Once inside the forum, your virtual character (avantar) can walk through the forum rooms by simply using the four arrow keys on one's keyboard. You can see other participants and easily interact with them:
- You can approach other participants and have a text based or audio chat with them.
- You can exchange business cards with participants.
- During a scheduled event, you can visit presentation, which consists of a slide show and audio with the real time voice of the speaker. The audience can type in comments which get answered by the speaker.
- Similarly to a real conference event, you can visit exhibits in the forum rooms. Information about the exhibits can be viewed directly within the software via ebrochures, or the exhibit contains a link to external web site for further information.
During my one hour visit to a scheduled event at the forum, I approached or was approached by three other participants with whom I exchanged contact information and had valuable conversation. I realized the following potential benefits of the virtual forum:
- It enables participants to meet in a conference like setting. It could be used to used to supplement or substitute committee meetings and greatly reduce, or even eliminate, travel times.
- It provides relatively informal environment for interaction with your peers.
I was simply impressed, and I believe that the virtual forums have great potential as a platform to facilitate interaction among professionals.