It has been almost three weeks ago that we held the Global XR Conference. The Global XR Conference took place on December 1-3. It is an online conference organized for the global XR community with sessions, talks and workshops about virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, and extended reality. We also had several communities from all over the world which held their own community event in a slot at the conference. For us it is all about the community. Giving the chance to others to talk and/ or present about their favorite subject, allowing them to speak about what they are working on or just let them show something cool. We had technical, functional, and even business sessions. We don’t allow someone to sell their product. It should be fun, informative, and able to teach others to continue their journey into the XR world. We even had a special conference space created in AltspaceVR which allowed attendees to mingle and meet with others during the event in virtual reality. Some of the sessions were broadcasted on the big screen in the virtual room. Attendees were able to join via PC, Mac or virtual reality headset.
The Global XR Conference is part of the Global XR Community. Initially the conference was a Bootcamp which supported different communities all over the world in organizing their event with local heroes all on the same day. Due to COVID-19 we decided last year to move the event online and also started with the Global XR Talks. A monthly event with two sessions and afterwards meets and greet in AltspaceVR.
These events are driven from a Dutch foundation by people from the community. Since the last two years I got help from two great people, Saskia Groenewegen en Sjoukje Zaal, which helped to organize and drive these events. And we shouldn’t forget the community. Without them supporting us with moderation of sessions it would be impossible to have an event like the Global XR Conference. This year alone we had five parallel channels filled with more than 90+ sessions, talks, workshops and communities divided over three days.
In a time like this it is challenging to run an online event. There are so many online events organized. And while not many are around XR, you notice that people starting to get what we call “online fatigue”. But with more than 1000+ registered attendees, more than 800+ watch hours and 6K+ views, we did well! And each session is recorded and available on our YouTube channel. And till today people are watching these pre-recorded sessions.
Organizing an event like this cost’s months of preparation. It starts with setting the right event date without overlapping other events with similar content. We decided this time to have three days in a specific timeslot which accommodates most of the World’s countries. Next step is getting speakers for sessions, talks and workshops. And it sounds so simple but isn’t. Besides opening a CFP (Call For Speakers) we reached out to lot of people in the different areas and on social media. While we often get speakers from previous years, this year we had over 50% new speakers. Which is incredible!
One of the key things with an event like this is communication. Communication to attendees, speakers, moderators, sponsors, and many others involved. The amount of communication is almost insane. And even with that in place things can go wrong. Another important part is marketing. Think about banners, trailer movies, opening movie for each keynote and session, sponsors, raffling of prizes, scripts for social media, support documentation for moderators and much more.
We faced a lot of challenges in the period before the event as during the event. Think of a speaker who got ill, a moderator who is not able to attend anymore, moving slots around, informative emails which got into spam filters, Technology issues, broadcasting servers for pre-recorded sessions, Streamyard accounts, Discord server maintenance, and many other examples. But even with that, organizing an event for such a great community is just awesome and satisfying.
While I had not much time during the event to follow sessions, I did after the event. While I want to highlight a few of them, all the sessions of the event were amazing with great and interesting speakers. And as you can imagine the ones, I will mention are a bit focused on my own interests.
First, we had three amazing keynotes. The first one was the future of computing with spatial computing and quantum computing by Rene Schulte. The second one was about creating a diverse, inclusive, and safe metaverse by April Speight. And finally Fostering Inclusivity in VR by Navyata Bawa from Meta. These keynotes together reflect today’s technology, diversity, and inclusiveness at it’s best.
There were a few sessions which stand out. One of them was Saving lives with holograms by Joost van Schaik and Timmy Kokke. A consumer product which they work on where a Microsoft HoloLens 2 is used for performing CPR training. Another one was developing augmented reality applications for iOS using Xamarin by Lee Englestone. A session about bridging XR and business with working virtually by Alison Morano and Ruthie Bowles. And not to forget the session Do we live in the matrix and would it matter if we did by James Ashley.
Another takeaway was the amazing community slot of Extended Reality in Africa organized by Arome Ibrahim. His three-hour community slot was about XR Women in Africa, topics like XR for Virtual Try-ons, swiftXR, The future of Africa in the metaverse and much more. It is so incredible to see how people are evolving in XR all over the world.
While we are currently finishing all the thank you cards which are sent out to the speakers, I want to wish everyone a merry Christmas and amazing new year. And I invite you all to attend one of our Global XR Talks events and of course keep an eye out for more information about the next Global XR Conference which will take place in 2022.
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