Virtual Edge 2010: 3D immersive platforms for events

BtoB OnlineLetter to John Obrecht, Managing Editor for Crain Communications, publishers of B to B Online.

Dear John,

I did not see Erin Biba’s contact information and wanted to respond/ask a question regarding the Virtual Events Special Report in the March 8 edition on B to B Online.  I was an attendee at the 2010 Virtual Edge conference and have been involved in the virtual space for over a year.  I also was very pleased with the increased attendance at the Virtual Edge conference from both the non-techie side and the vendor side.

The directory of virtual events and event service vendors is great but one important virtual category was left out entirely – the 3D immersive side which I believe will be very shortly the high growth segment of the virtual events sector.  Was this omission because a separate 3D immersive section will be published at a future date?  The companies on the virtual vendors listed are 2D platforms (although Moderne Communications plans events in Second Life for clients but does not have their own 3D platform). 

Nothing was mentioned about it at all and several 3D immersive vendors were represented at the show – one of which was the backbone of the show and keynote presentations:  Digitell.  They had the 3D auditorium, chat, and twitter feeds that were referred to and featured during several keynote presentations so I’m confused about the omission.  Other vendors present at the show include TelePlace and 3DXplorer by Altadyn.

As I mentioned, I do believe that 3D immersive will soon be the high growth segment of the virtual events sector.  The reason being that during the economic bust of 2008/2009, with the predicted “demise” of live events, companies like Oracle and Cisco experimented with 2D virtual events.  There was a high technical barrier to entry and high learning curve with 3D immersive environments so 2D was a fast and easy way to market.  As noted by Erin, large-scale corporations found success in the hybrid event models.  While these virtual platforms include group and private chat, and live video streaming, the platforms still employ “lean back” type of viewing (talking heads + ppt) versus true interactive participation that you get with 3D immersive environments. 

Today, the high technical barrier to entry for 3D immersive events have now be solved with web-based portals, avoiding behind-the-firewall, IT intensive and expensive installations.  Moreover, 3D platforms have simplified the avatar navigation so the learning curve is around an hour.  But the impact that you can achieve with a 3D immersive environments on learning and knowledge retention is tremendous.  For small to moderate size groups for both conference-level presentations, and for eLearning in particular, 3D immersive is the way to go (depending on the use case).  I personally am recommending this route for my clients with 300+ projected attendees.

I do hope that a special section will be devoted to 3D immersive events.  If you need help writing that piece, I’d be happy to contribute.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Nina Gerwin

Principal

The NRG Group

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