Startup iSee™ surprised audiences at DiG (Design + Interactive + Green Tech) Festival by gatecrashing the conference via the Cloud.
In a world first, while live on stage presenter Dr Gary Ellem from the University of Newcastle joined with the employees of iSee in a virtual 3D conference room using only a laptop webcam and standard building WiFi. Each of the iSee gate crashers appeared as ‘me-vatars’, which are similar to avatars in online gaming but instead stream the user’s own webcam to project them live into the online world. Their computer screen shows the sights and sounds of the room from only their mevatar’s perspective.
By positioning himself in front of his laptop webcam, Dr Ellem was able to seamlessly complete his presentation as both a mevatar in iSee and physical presenter to the audience at the same time. Dr Ellem’s slides were projected onto a wall in the 3D environment and were shown to the physical conference audience by projecting the view from Dr Ellem’s mevatar onto the conference bigscreen.
The technology worked flawlessly throughout the 20 minute presentation despite the shared and overstretched WiFi connection. A move that surprised the conference organisers who had warned against using the conference WiFi due to the sluggish performance throughout the proceedings.
“There was a collective expression of disbelief in the audience. I think it was a combination of what they were seeing in iSee and the fact that it was being achieved on the same sluggish WiFi connection they were all using,” said Dr Ellem.
With the ability to stream more than 50 webcams, iSee enables users to move around, form groups, converse, share ideas and content. Position-sensitive hearing means that despite there being multiple mevatars in a room, users will only hear conversations within earshot, just as in the real world.
Before revealing the surprise, Dr Ellem asked the audience what the benefits were of physically attending a conference rather than using the current generation of video conferencing. Once in iSee, the audiences responses which included ‘face-to-face interactions’, ‘networking’ and ‘collaboration’ were quickly challenged by this new generation of immersive communication. The exercise demonstrated the power of iSee to ‘humanise’ the web and enable the kind offace-to-face interactions that audience members had believed were unique to the conference environment.
Initial applications of the technology are currently under development for the business, government and education sectors.
“The technology defies geographical boundaries by bringing people together from anywhere in the world into an environment that mimics the real-world. The business sector has already realised the potential for this technology to dramatically reduce staff travel costs and increase efficiencies,” said JessicaSullivan, iSee Client Business Innovation Leader. “Imagine being at a conference venue where you can meet, mingle and talk like in the real world, but have your computer digitally connected to as many projection screens as you like. We are only just beginning to tap into the opportunities for more productive meetings, conferences, workshops and online learning” said Ms Sullivan.
iSee is a wholly owned subsidiary of Smart Services CRC Pty Ltd. The iSee platform was developed by Smart Services CRC in collaboration with researchers at the University of Wollongong ICT research group.
Please contact Jessica Sullivan on 0407 758 080 for interviews or further information.