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“The virtual worlds are the real evolution”

Laval Virtual Days XR Trends

Crédits photos : VirBELA / Laval Virtual

On September 28th, XR enthusiasts gathered in the well-known Laval Virtual World for a vibrant and rich evening. For the second consecutive year, Laval Virtual organized an immersive “back-to-school”, in partnership with Cap Digital. The team, along with many other VR/AR experts, looked back at 2020 which was a very special year. Discover all the trends and business sectors that went through a major evolution.

What are the XR trends in 2020?

The topic of this night was “XR Trends”. A part of the Laval Virtual team took care of the responsibility to present the trends of the VR/AR market of 2020. And what a year! Many sectors had to evolve rapidly, the immersive technologies field took a step forward to become more and more a part of our daily life. 

What drives us towards the democratization of technologies?” That’s the question David Nahon, 3DExperience Lab Immersive Experience Director, asked the audience. By his side to talk about this XR topic, there was Nicolas Ribeyre, Business Intelligence Manager at Laval Virtual, and thus constantly aware of the hottest trends in virtual and augmented reality. Together, they identified 4 major trends that shook up the XR world in 2020.

  • VR headsets are now offering augmented reality, for example the Varjo XR-1 and the Lenovo Mixed Reality headset.
  • Web VR applications are the new way to experience virtual reality on your computer; “this is making the life of the user easier”, Nicolas Ribeyre explains.
  • Spatialized sound becomes the standard. That makes it possible to localize and hear noises from front to back and from left to right. The VR/AR laboratory CLARTE developed a project with binaural sound in sports.
  • Cross technologies are increasing: artificial intelligence, AR facial recognition, emotions detection inside headsets.

David Nahon, VR expert and co-founder of the AFXR, took the opportunity to talk about the professional and consumer VR/AR markets of today. Which business sectors stand out? On one hand immersive video games represent a developed BtoC market, on the other hand “in the BtoB, training experiences are the most mature market”.

Virtual worlds have risen up

There is no doubt that virtual worlds have become a significant tendency in the XR industry. As Laurent Chrétien, CEO of Laval Virtual, said in introduction: “My intuition is that the virtual worlds are the real revolution”. We discussed it during a previous Laval Virtual Days with different experts. Since June, the Laval Virtual team has looked deeper into the topic. There are so many online platforms and VR universes… how to choose the best solution among all the virtual worlds? Marie Leblanc, Head of Services at Laval Virtual, has tried to enlighten minds by giving a precise classification.

Marie Leblanc introduces: “We have been working for a few months on virtual worlds. We have referenced a hundred of them.” VRChat, VirBELA, Engage, AltspaceVR… A previous rapport made a comparison of the best virtual worlds for conferencing. 5 months later, the Laval Virtual team is able to list 10 categories of virtual worlds. But first, what is a virtual world? “Virtual worlds are persistent or not -which means they exist for a moment or all the time-, multi-users and interactive”.

The 10 categories of virtual worlds identified by Laval Virtual team

The graphic above lists the 10 categories of virtual worlds Marie Leblanc presented during her talk. She explained each of them individually, with their possibilities and advantages. For example, for conferences “you have the possibility to have a moderator, to make Q&A, to discuss with participants, to present a PowerPoint.” If you are a teacher or a university looking for an online solution for your students, this study will help you choose between a virtual classroom and an e-learning platform. “The e-learning platform includes learning scenarios and you can really experiment to learn. That’s the difference with virtual classrooms where there is just a group with a professor.

The subject of virtual worlds is surely a hot topic! There is still a lot to work on, and at Laval Virtual, we are helping you to find the best online solution to meet your needs. The Laval Virtual World awaits you!

Rethinking the future of work, trade and health

Three VR/AR professionals shared their experience and presented their solutions, each one operating in a specific business field: training, retail and healthcare. These three sectors of activity have been through major changes due to the pandemic and particularly the lockdown. The two events accelerated the digitalization and led to a moment of adaptation.

Guillaume Gouraud recently founded a company called Stylé. His ambition? “To be the crossroad between digital fashion and games. Our mission is to recreate the pleasure of fashion.” As he says, “fashion is very late in digitalization. But COVID has been a huge acceleration.” Since people cannot meet in real life, due to social distances, virtual reality appeared as the best solutions to keep working and making design decisions together. One of the other challenges is to regain the pleasure of shopping, while e-commerce has boomed in the past few months. “Tech is moving very fast. It is going to bring virtual outfits to everybody.” Are you ready to try on virtual clothes in the future? Because it seems to be the next hit.

In the health sector, immersive technologies have found their way too. Alexander Padhaiski, CEO of The Parallel, elaborated a project for children with physical disabilities. Its project was rewarded in April during the Laval Virtual World with the Laval Virtual Award “VR/AR for a Cause”. He is using virtual reality to motivate children to do exercises from home. “A person with cerebral palsy will have to spend 800,000$ in medical treatment.” So virtual reality has two benefits: it’s cheaper, and “it helps to engage children, to gain focus”. And right now, due to the context, it’s the most appropriate solution for long-distance treatment.

The way we work was also shook up by the health crisis. We couldn’t meet and organize group training as before. And these conditions are still valid today. How can we keep working together and training with professionals while we are away? Virtual reality training has been a thing for many years now. Good retention rate, cheaper, more attention… Trainers and learners strongly favour VR. The health crisis has accelerated this conviction, as Loïx Lextrait, CEO of Evaveo explained. Evaveo has created numerous virtual reality modules for training: “We have developed about 20 virtual reality projects with Artefacto and Mimbus.” There is no doubt that virtual training has a future, and remote work has confirmed it.

Inventing new ways of art creation

Among all the business sectors, I think it’s safe to say that art, culture and tourism have been the most affected. The museums and theaters closed, people couldn’t travel, exhibitions and festivals were canceled. It was a very difficult time for artists and content creators. They had to think about a new way to bring art to people, which inevitably leads to a transformation of the artwork format. “How does COVID period impact the creativity of digital artists? How did they adapt and find new ways of creation?”, as Urszula Gleisner, Virtual Reality and New Media Expert, asked.

Judith Guez, curator and director of the Recto VRso festival, was of course disappointed when the 3rd edition had to be postponed, especially for the artists. They couldn’t exhibit their artwork. So she imagined a solution to counter this cancellation: “In 2020, we decided to make a multi-platform festival. The Recto VRso website is the portal to enter the different parts of the festival. […] There is an access to the virtual gallery of Recto VRso. The idea is to have a preview of the artworks and to virtually move in the scenography initially planned.” And the good news is that you can access the virtual gallery for free until October 4th and live a unique VR experience. Judith also announced the opening of a Recto VRso area in the Laval Virtual World, to meet, share, and attend events in the next months. 

For artists, the lockdown period was not necessarily dramatic. John Desnoyers-Steward, PhD Student & XR Artist/Researcher, spoke up: “During lockdown, there were a lot of opportunities that came up including an international collaboration that emerged in the Laval Virtual World in April.” John imagined a project to keep connecting people using virtual reality: “With Touch, we wanted to explore how we can bring physical touch back to virtual reality and a way to connect people.Sigrid Coggins, Plastic Artist, decided to use the lockdown to involve people in the process of creation: “I invited people in Zoom, without any VR headset, with the idea that the results of these meetings will be exhibited. The pleasure to meet, to share, and to discuss how art is necessary in our lives.” As she rightly says: “Creation is co-creation.

These Laval Virtual Days XR Trends were the occasion to look back at this particular year. Many sectors have suffered, but immersive technologies have emerged to help them get through this difficult period by imagining new ways to work, shop, visit, attend an event. Virtual and augmented reality are leading the path to the digital transformation of companies and our daily lives.

About author

Content editor at Laval Virtual. Obsessed with adverbs and punctuation, synonyms and keywords are my daily guides. I hunt innovative use cases about VR/AR and immersive tech.
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