A number of social VR platforms and virtual worlds are responding to the continuing global public health crisis that is the coronavirus pandemic, offering their platforms as a way for people to safely gather while they are under quarantine, or practicing social distancing.
For example, Somnium Space has announced that they will host a daily meetup in-world at 3:00 pm PST/6:00 p.m. EST/23:00 CET:
This very handy guide gives step-by-step instructions for those new to VRChat, and even gives a few suggestions of worlds to explore. (Remember, you do not need a VR headset to enjoy VRChat.)
And (of course), there are many other social VR platforms and virtual worlds that you can also use to gather with other people and make new friends online. Sansar is still up and running, and of course Second Life is still as popular as ever!
We are seeing an increase in new registrations and returning residents during this outbreak. Please be kind and welcoming to those who may just need a friendly conversation to escape from this crazy world for a moment or more. If you have a friend or colleague who is looking for a safe place to socialize online during these tough times, we encourage you to help them discover how Second Life can enable them to feel less isolated by connecting them to your favorite communities or experiences.
My personal experience has been that spending time with others in a virtual world, or on a social VR platform, feels just the same to your brain as if you were having a conversation with a real-life friend in a real-life location. So please remember to turn to the metaverse if your social distancing strategy is leaving you feeling a little lonely and isolated during the coronavirus pandemic.
Well, trickle that started with the highly successful Educators in VR 2020 International Summit has turned into a veritable flood, as dozens of conferences and events are moving away from real-world meetings to virtual ones, held on a variety of social VR platforms and virtual worlds.
Here’s what’s coming up between now and the end of March (along with a couple of additions of my own). Thank you to Andy Fidel for all her work compiling this information!
March 16–19 | MVP Global Summit
“Microsoft has made the decision that this year’s MVP/Regional Director Summit will be an online-only/virtual event. Our entire team is working hard to plan and prepare an alternate experience that still provides the exclusive in-depth technical sessions in an online-only format and be inclusive to our globally distributed community.” [register here]
March 17–19 | Virtual Universe 2020
“Competing in today’s diverse market is no joke. Successful organizations must remain at the forefront of technology while controlling budgets, leveraging data, and ensuring security.” [register here]
March 18–19 | Women in Graphene 2020 Virtual Event
“The next Women in Graphene Career Development Day is going digital…join us on 18–19 March for an out of this world experience! This two-day event is an opportunity to discuss issues related to gender and diversity in science and technology fields and specifically in the graphene community.” [register here]
March 18 | Playable.GDC2020
“The Game Developer’s Conference has announced they will postpone their event. But all game developers know that with grit and innovation, THE SHOW MUST GO ON! PLAYABLE in the virtual reality streams from the event that you can attend from anywhere on the planet!” [register here]
March 18 | Domopalooza
“While we are disappointed not to be hosting Domopalooza in Utah, we are excited to bring the great content and conversations to you as an interactive online experience.” [register here]
March 19 | Spring Live
“Things are a little crazy right now. Were you excited about an upcoming conference that’s now cancelled? Same here. So we’re doing something about it. Complete the form and we’ll send you details on how to join this one-time event.” [register here]
March 19 | V²EC 2020 — Virtual VIVE Ecosytem Conference
“HTC usually hosts its Vive Ecosystem Conference (HTC 2020 VEC) in Shenzhen, China but due to the current climate will entirely host the event in virtual reality (VR).” [register here]
March 19–21 | Microsoft Build
“Join your peers and Microsoft engineers to learn, connect, and code together. Get inspired and leave a better developer than when you arrived.” [register here]
March 21–22 | Virtual Genius Conference
“Get ready for some very nuanced discussions/dialectics, lots of cutting-edge solutions to problems that the world hasn’t even acknowledged exists, to find like minds and new hobbies, and for a sneaky look at future trends (we tend to know them first!).” [register here]
March 24 | EMOTIONAI
“Join us for a virtual conference featuring leaders in tech and EQ to explore how AI and EQ can collaborate to build emotional connections for our future.” [register here]
March 22–26 | 2020 IEEE VR
“Out of an abundance of caution surrounding COVID-19, the decision has been made to convert the in-person component of VR 2020 into an all-digital conference experience — VR 2020 will now be an online event. The IEEE Conference on Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces (IEEE VR) is the premier international event for the presentation of research results in the broad area of virtual reality (VR).” [register here]
March 25 | MoCDA Spring 2020 Virtual Conference
“How do you share information with your students, clients, and other stakeholders, such as department chairs and local employers? A picture is worth a thousand words. Discover how career practitioners can enhance their website content and workshop materials with original images, including infographics, without having graphic design experience.” [register here]
March 24–25 | TRANSFORM
“#TRANSFORM2020 Online will deliver the complete conference as programmed via live streaming on 24 & 25 March with all content uploaded for viewing post-event. We will film all the sessions as programmed and will video conference in remote speakers where feasible. Delegates will be able to join the conversation and participate in sessions by submitting their questions and comments live — stay tuned.” [register]
March 23 | The Ultimate Tech Skills Conference
“Pluralsight LIVE Europe is now a virtual event open to everyone. Tune in for exciting product announcements, a message from Pluralsight CEO Aaron Skonnard and sessions on tech trends, skill development, best practices and more. Register below to get information on how to access it and a reminder when it goes live on 23 March.” [register here]
March 25 | Microsoft Developer Virtual Conference
“Calling all developers! Get ready to dev-level-up. Spend one day exploring a digital virtual conference and learning from experts across the nation. This digital event enables all types of developers to connect and learn through 5 different tracks and 20 sessions, as well as an online Partner lounge to build connections and discover a range of developer tools and services. Join sessions created for developers and discover the capabilities of the Microsoft Cloud ecosystem.” [register here]
March 25–26 | OECD Global Anti-Corruption & Integrity Forum
“Forum will go ahead in a virtual format, allowing participants to join the sessions from anywhere in the world, contribute to the debates and engage with speakers in real time.” [register here]
March 25–26 |Virtual World Best Practices in Education
The long-running Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education (VWBPE) conference will take place in the virtual world of Second Life from March 26th to 28th, 2020. The keynote on Saturday March 28th will by Lorelle VanFossen and Daniel Dyboski-Bryant, who will share their experience creating and running the first-ever Educators in VR 2020 International Summit, which was a resounding success with 160 speakers over six days on five different social VR platforms, and a model for future virtual conferences. The title of Lorelle and Daniel’s keynote is Lessons Learned from the 2020 Educators in VR Conference. [register here]
March 29-April 1 | Association of Test Publishers
“Innovations in Testing 2020 has made the unprecedented decision to cancel their on-site meeting in San Diego and turn Innovations 2020 into a Virtual On-line Conference. These are extraordinary times and in some ways it is a remarkable opportunity to put into play the technology and e-learning that we have talked so much about.” [register here]
March 31-April 2 | Adobe Summit — The Digital Experience Conference
Watch the keynote live: Hear about trends and new products that are transforming industries from the comfort of your wherever. Explore 100+ breakouts on demand: Get free access to over a hundred on-demand breakout sessions from Adobe, customers, and partners. Sneak a peak at the future: Join special guest Chelsea Handler for a look at the latest experimental tech from our labs — at Adobe Sneaks. [register here]
There are many more conferences and events taking place past the end of March, 2020; for further details please refer to Andy Fidel’s blogpost on Medium. (Thanks, Andy!)
Did you know that there is now a group of librarians and other library workers who are meeting weekly on the AltspaceVR social VR platform?
The XR in Libraries meetup brings librarians and library allies together to discuss the role that libraries can play at making XR technologies (VR/AR/MR) available to the communities we serve. Meeting in virtual reality provides us a practical way for us to test the affordances of various virtual meeting spaces, and to explore the associated technologies.
You are invited to our second meeting to discuss VR/AR/MR in libraries, share your experiences and get ideas for new ones. This meetup will take place on Wednesday, March 18th, 2020 from 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM Central Standard Time (or Thursday, March 19th, 2020, 02:00-03:00 UTC). Everyone is welcome!
Valve warned us that supplies for its Index VR headset would be limited when it went back up on sale this week. And it wasn’t kidding.
Within less than an hour of going back online, the full Index kit is backed up to shipping after eight weeks. In fact, people on Twitter report that that was the case around 30 minutes in to them going back on sale. Some users also had trouble completing their orders, which may have lost them an early unit. The headset on its own ships between eight to ten weeks and Index controllers are scheduled between three to five weeks. Base stations by themselves are totally sold out, too.
Meanwhile, Facebook’s Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift S also remain heavily backordered. In quite an unprecedented situation for VR, it’s now practically impossible to buy an Oculus or Valve VR headset through an official online retailer…
Basically, if you are waiting to purchase an Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift S, or Valve Index, you’re going to be waiting for several more months. The only VR headset that has not been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic is the HTC Vive, which is manufactured in Taiwan. In fact, this global public health crisis might actually lead to more business for HTC.