The Laval Virtual conferences will take place in the form of half-days from April 12 to 14, 2023.
Crédits photos : Laval Virtual / Prisma
The Laval Virtual event on virtual reality and the metaverse celebrates its 25th edition this year. With this longevity, Laval Virtual has the ambition to put its foot in it and to evoke sensitive issues around new technologies. Looking at the past and the present to prepare for the future: this is the main theme of the conference program of Laval Virtual 2023. Interview with Grégory Maubon, coordinator of the conference cycle.
What is the ambition of the Laval Virtual conferences this year?
This year there are about 50 speakers, fewer than usual. In my opinion, this is a certain sign of maturity in a “metaversical” universe that has become a bit crazy this last year. The purpose of this 25th edition is to look at the past and prepare for the future: to know what we did before, where we are now, where we can go next. The central question this year is how these immersive technologies can be used in an ethical way.
Rather than making a complete catalog of all the use cases, we have chosen to focus on what seems to us to be areas of evolution for the good of humanity. There is a global negative context around technology in general since the pandemic. There are a lot of questions about its applications. We realize that there are problems with personal data and inclusion in particular.
Recently, we have been focusing a lot on the dark side of technology and what it can bring in terms of constraints, difficulties and risks. With events like Laval Virtual, it is possible to really make the best of it. The essence of this edition is focused on that: to show less to highlight good practices, while looking at the past and the present to evaluate. We are at a crucial point of evolution and it seems important to us to give the keys to anticipate the future.
What are the conferences that should not be missed?
Of the 6 sessions, there is a mix of thematic sessions and transversal discussions. It is always difficult to choose one because they are all interesting. The keynotes are still an important part of the conferences. They highlight the strategies of big tech, which are fundamental elements in our vision of the future.
There will be classic approaches, such as those of Microsoft, Meta and Pico, who will present their range of immersive hardware. But we asked them to go further and also explain their strategy behind these hardware releases. Chanel will be presenting on its use of virtual reality and the metaverse in its business strategy. The keynotes are interesting because they give an open vision on a relatively near future from professional actors.
What formats will we see during these conferences?
We have taken the challenge of showing concrete use cases, which are operational and based on past experience. It is up to the audience to imagine their own future. The conferences and the exhibition are complementary: the questions of the conferences are made to invite the professionals to discuss with the exhibitors on the exhibition.
There will also be panels, where we mix presentations and discussions. The panels are a more open format. We want the audience to interact and ask the real questions.
We show use cases because we think they are interesting and that the public can appropriate them. The panels are there to give leads and keys to go further. For each panel, we have chosen to present a theme that the speakers will analyse in 3-4 points. At the end, visitors get elements to go further and adapt them to their own case.
There will be 6 thematic sessions during the 3 professional days of the event. What is the most promising theme?
The newest theme is “Metaverse Dilemmas”. We would like to give a big kick to the negative side of the technology that has been spreading for a year. We want to talk frankly about the problems, especially the ethical and sustainability issues. Here again, I think it’s a sign of maturity: not being afraid to talk about problems and understand that they can be a concern for development, and above all to try to solve them. Laval Virtual has a real advantage over other events. Since 1999, the event has grown with the technologies and their evolution, and we know the real possibilities of the technologies.
This session on the metaverse is focused on professionals and the immersive ecosystem. Our goal is to bring answers to questions around the topic. We’re going to talk about legal issues, sustainability, intellectual property, and we want these professionals to become aware of these matters and to get leads to work on them. This 25th edition is a pivot of maturity, and this session is the pivot of this pivot. The metaverse is at the heart of current events and questions today, and it is a subject that must inevitably be addressed by an event like Laval Virtual.
What are the profiles of the invited speakers?
This year, we mixed the profiles more and invited users, professionals and researchers. It’s interesting to bring researchers into discussions because they bring a different point of view from professionals. We bring together people who have different approaches. This allows us to get to the heart of complex subjects, such as inclusiveness in education. The research side gives numbers and more solid elements to the discussions.
Any last words to convince people to come to the conferences?
The past, the present and the future: this is truly the common thread of this edition. Laval Virtual is 25 years old, and it’s time to give our audience something to think about. The objective of the interventions is to propose questions to the public, whether they are users of technologies or professionals. This question phase is a concrete preparation if we want to act in the medium term. We cannot eternally consider that technology is going to make us less intelligent and more unhappy. Our role is to have an optimistic side. Having a balance between realism and optimism: that’s the maturity of Laval Virtual after 25 years.