Here’s a Way to Bring More “Reality” to Virtual Conferences – Virtually: eDiscovery Trends

Let’s face it, our conferences, meetings and other gatherings are going to continue to be virtual for the foreseeable future during this pandemic and the ones that have taken place so far, while providing excellent education, have been challenged to reproduce the networking aspects of in-person conferences that we’ve come to expect.  So, how do we address the challenge of making virtual conferences more rewarding?  Perhaps (with a little help from EDRM) inject a little virtual reality into them!

Last week, Mary Mack and Kaylee Walstad of EDRM gave me a tour of Event Farm’s The Echo virtual reality environment for meetings, conferences and other gatherings.  Event Farm has partnered with VirBELA to bring a revolutionary, virtual events experience to market. By combining a virtual venue with event engagement technology, The Echo offers a social engagement and communication solution that’s designed to transform run-of-the-mill, physical events into unforgettable virtual networking and learning experiences.  The Echo’s virtual world environment is designed to promote social interaction and collaboration among participants and is scalable to support 10,000+ users concurrently from anywhere in the world.

EDRM plans to use The Echo for several events over the next year, including their first Expo during E-Discovery Day (powered by Exterro) on December 3rd.  It’s an “Expo at The Echo”!  ;o)

After you install the app and create a sign-in, you can create an avatar for your character in the environment.  Your avatar can use your computer microphone to speak to other attendees in the environment, or you can send text chats to them.  Your avatar can laugh, dance (as illustrated by the top image above), easily walk around the campus and go to a specific place instantly (among other things).  Here’s what mine looks like:

I’m from Texas, so of course I have a cowboy hat! And, in my virtual reality, my hair is still brown… 😉

Then, you can begin to explore the environment, which includes auditoriums, boardrooms, conference and expo halls, lounge areas, even a music venue and a beach where you can conduct social gatherings (and even jump into a speedboat to take a look at the entire campus!):

You can crash into the mountains (I did), yet live to tell about it!

You can conduct presentations to hundreds within large auditoriums or just a few people in meeting rooms, using screen sharing, PowerPoint presentations, videos and anything else you might typically include in a presentation.  Here’s an example of Mary at the podium speaking in the Main Auditorium:

Don’t worry, you won’t be stuck with my ugly mug in the presentation screen!

And here is the view from the stage out to the audience.  Those logos for The Echo could be replaced with sponsor logos of a given event:

Wow, this is at least twice the audience that I’m used to!

And here are the three of us having a conversation before taking our seats.  The pop-up menu illustrates all of the different areas you can go to around the campus:

And, when waiting for an event, you can catch up with your friends!

Here’s a look at the Expo Hall, where virtual vendors could set up their booths, just like as in an in-person exhibit hall!  Even better, you can conduct private meetings in the booth (as well as in meeting rooms, etc.), without the loud hubbub that normally goes on in physical exhibit halls (not to mention, no tired feet from standing in the booth all day!):

No matter how crowded it gets in the Expo Hall, you can have a quiet, private conversation with any exhibitor you want!

“You can configure meeting rooms and other areas to support your needs and even lock them to keep unauthorized attendees out”, said Kaylee. “The environment doesn’t record any conversations, so any private meetings you conduct stay private.”

“We think the virtual reality environment provided by The Echo can truly transform the experience associated with virtual meetings and conferences”, said Mary. “And we envision that EDRM partners can use this environment to conduct team meetings, meetings with clients, user conferences, social gatherings and more!”

I mentioned that EDRM’s first event in The Echo is its inaugural Expo being conducted on E-Discovery Day.  You can now register for the E-Discovery Day Expo here, which will give you a chance to attend the complimentary event in The Echo and check it out for yourself!

I was quite impressed with the Event Farm environment and think it has terrific potential to make the virtual meeting, conference and social gathering experience a lot more enjoyable.  Interaction during my tour with Mary and Kaylee was practically like being there with them in person and it was easy to understand quickly how to move around the environment (there’s also a Welcome Booth at the entrance where you can get live assistance – through voice interaction! – from a rep as well).

Drinks with Doug and Mary and Marc at The Echo during Legalweek next year?  I’m there!  :o)

For more information on EDRM sponsorships (including event sponsorship in The Echo environment), contact info@edrm.net!

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So, what do you think?  Will virtual reality be the ticket to make these virtual events and meetings more rewarding?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by my employer, my partners or my clients. eDiscovery Today is made available solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Today should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.

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