This year has been rough for everyone and almost impossible to meet people in real life. Because of that, Helsinki XR Center team wanted to arrange something special for the XR Community in Finland and we tested our limits with a new kind of event to us: an experimental immersive technology conference – Match XR 2020.
With our team of 9 people, we decided to set up one of the biggest XR get-togethers in the Nordics through Virtual Reality (VR). Match XR 2020 was held on 25th November 2020 on the popular social VR platform AltspaceVR, in our self-made virtual venue – VR Pavilion Finland.
Before the summer 2020, we started to plan our event venue and soon realized it was not just a one-off event platform: it was something we wanted to use in the future events as well. It was a good opportunity to launch the handcrafted VR Pavilion Finland at the Match XR 2020 event.
Helsinki XR Center team smiled behind the masks all day!
Match XR 2020 in numbers:
- ~900 attendees
- 36 nationalities
- 17 partner worlds
- 27 partners
- 23 speakers & panelists
- 170+ unique visitors in AltspaceVR
- 90+ simultaneous visitors in AltspaceVR
- 786 individual views in live stream
- 300 peak of simultaneous viewers in live stream
- 9+9 HXRC team members & volunteers
Visitors from all over the world – 36 different countries
For Finnish virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) companies Match XR gave a chance to shine and connect globally, and for international audiences it offered a unique opportunity to meet and connect with the professionals of the Finnish XR field in a special way. Match XR 2020 had approximately 900 attendees from 36 different countries from all over the world. We are really grateful to all of the 27 partners – companies, startups and organizations who built this amazing experience with us.
The Mayor of Helsinki Jan Vapaavuori stepping into the Virtual Reality at Match XR 2020.
Virtual exhibition area – 17 partner worlds in VR
At Match XR 2020 the visitor had an opportunity to hear and experience the current state of Finnish XR industry. The event venue – VR Pavilion Finland was visited by more than 170 unique AltspaceVR users and about 90 of them were in the venue at the same time. The event was full of fascinating speeches, panel discussions and presentations. We got a change to get the Mayor of Helsinki Jan Vapaavuori to open the event and he also visited VR Pavilion Finland with us in AltspaceVR. Between the presentations, guests had time to experience the brand new venue and through the magical portals of AltspaceVR, visitors also got to visit unique virtual worlds created by our partners.
Since Altspace supports community created environments, we decided to give our partners the opportunity to let their creativity flow and create their own VR world into Altspace, which is linked into our main hub’s expo area via teleport. It’s an experimental take on virtual exhibitions, all the partner worlds are linked to our venue and freely accessible for all AltspaceVR users. If you missed the event or just want to visit the venue and experience the partner world’s once again, log in to your AltspaceVR account and go to visit VR Pavilion Finland through this link.
Partner Portals in Virtual Pavilion Finland
How we tackled technical problems with AltspaceVR
On the event day, we had some technical problems with AltspaceVR – what an event it would be if there were no technical problems at all – but in the end, all went well and we received positive and constructive feedback. Now we know what to do and what is a “no-no” for next year’s event.
Majority of the early morning issues were caused by a communication break between us and the AltspaceVR support team. The Front Row technology was not activated for our world until the night before the event. This led to a horrific scene in the morning, when we noticed the activation had also deleted everything we’d changed within the world editor, lowered our user cap from 60 to 30, and we already had almost 80 people within the space at 8:00 am. Luckily our team was quick at repairing the scene and we got most of the issues sorted before the presenters started in AltspaceVR.
Metropolia UAS XR Design students worked with us as a moderators of Match XR 2020.
Unfortunately this led to issues with the panel discussion and our first presenter in AltspaceVR. Luckily, the rest of the presentations went well, except for a small disconnect in AltspaceVR’s server, which blacked out the presentation screens for about 10 minutes during the day. We were also a bit let down by the Front Row technology, as it did not mirror our presentations to other rooms, only the main one. So we had to create separate Multimedia Consoles in each mirrored room, and run a Twitch stream of the main room in them to avoid having to change slides there by hand. This led to some lag in the presentation, as the speech was mirrored right away, but Twitch was a bit behind with the slides.
These issues are something that comes with being a forerunner. AltspaceVR released their how-to guide for Front Row the night before our event, so all the preparations were done without official guidance, and through cooperation with the Altspace team by email and their Discord channel. We learned a lot about operating an event this big and next time, everything will run more smoothly.
Program streamed from virtual reality to YouTube
Sounds simple – stream the event presentations from VR to YouTube and it will be visible to everyone. Let us open the whole situation up a little bit.
First of all, our program consisted of three differently facilitated parts. The first one was opening speeches from a live studio, the second one a live panel discussion from Zoom and the third one the live presentations in AltspaceVR. These were handled with one computer and one studio camera. The stream was directed with OBS Studio. In addition, our YouTube live chat was moderated from the same computer.
To complicate things up a bit, we needed to stream our YouTube stream via Twitch on another computer to get it work in AltspaceVR’s Multimedia Console, since we also wanted to show the live speeches inside AltspaceVR. This plan unfortunately wasn’t going smoothly as we had Front Row challenges as described earlier and the speeches were almost done when we were able to make things work. However, the Twitch stream was shown in the Front Row rooms during the presentations as we were not able to get the Multimedia Console to copy the slides from the main room to the mirrored Front Row rooms.
The Match XR 2020 had 786 individual views and 300 peak of simultaneous viewers in live stream
Operating the stream itself was fully manual work, from changing the scenes to changing the layouts to moving the camera view inside AltspaceVR. The lack of streaming studio technology and devices, and limited experience in live streaming, lead to some errors, but all in all the stream worked well and managed to bring the Match XR 2020 to those people who were not able to join us in AltspaceVR.
Match XR live stream recording:
If you missed the event – or simply wish to take a moment to reminisce the awesome presentations of Match XR 2020 – have a look at the Match XR livestream recording on YouTube!
THANK YOU ALL!
And once again huge thank you to all visitors, Finnish XR Community and our dear partners and sponsors – the event would not have existed without you.
Match XR live stream studio was a hot spot of the event day.
Planning next year’s event
We are starting to plan next year’s Match XR 2021 event soon, which means that we are looking for sponsors and partners already! Let us know if your company or organization wants to be a part of next Match XR event, and send us an email to: [email protected]
Main organizer of the event was Helsinki XR Center (HXRC). The event was powered by Metropolia University of the Applied Sciences and FIVR (Finnish Virtual Reality Association) and sponsored by Business Finland.
Handcrafted event venue
Virtual Pavilion Finland is a beautiful, otherworldly and versatile venue that is inspired by the Nordic midnight sun, expressionism, surrealism and endless creative potential of VR. It couldn’t exist anywhere else. It consists of two spaces, the main pavilion and an inspiring presentation amphitheater. The main pavilion has an open community area for networking, smaller special meeting rooms upstairs and a teleportation zone into partner worlds on the ground floor.
Read more about the VR Pavilion Finland.
Visit VR Pavilion Finland.
Photos by Meeri Lehto / Helsinki XR Center