Dave Cummins and Wayne Strydom of The Virtulab

The future of events is changing and companies, like UK-based The Virtulab, are at the forefront of exploring a new “hybrid” normal where people will choose their experience based on emerging new technologies that are becoming available. As the world begins to slowly reopen, many businesses are taking the lessons learned over the past 12 months and applying them to introduce a new way of working and interacting, one that embraces both remote and in-person encounters to create the best of both worlds.

In 2020 most of the global workforce was made to go remote. What was once considered an extravagant solution to a non-existent problem, was transformed overnight to the only way of working. Tools like Zoom, GoToMeeting and Google Hangout became our go-to ways of staying connected, but teams soon became disillusioned with back-to-back video conferencing, and the need for existing technology to fill the void was quickly recognised.

The Pendulum Swing

Virtual reality has been around for decades, but today it is proving its worth in a way few of us could have imagined. Pre-pandemic, virtual meetings were a rarity, but during 2020 they became almost the only way to connect. As we begin the journey towards a post-pandemic future, the pendulum will once again swing back, landing at a new equilibrium point, transforming the future of meetings and events to a point where innovative technologies converge to offer a seamless experience between the physical and virtual worlds.

“The future of meetings is not virtual, nor is it physical,” explains Executive Director at The Virtulab and co-founder of the Virtuworx platform, David Cummins. “We believe that the meetings of the future will be hybrid.”

It’s a view Cummins is not alone in sharing, as big tech companies like Google, Microsoft and Facebook have already confirmed they will be employing hybrid work models in some capacity moving forward. Likewise, a recent survey conducted by KayoCloud, a Machine Learning technology firm, found that 82% of the commercial landlords and senior real estate executives they spoke to believe companies will embrace this hybrid model, whereby employees will be in the office three days a week.

Bridging the Gap

The Virtulab team is harnessing their proprietary Virtuworx platform to help transform every type of event. Originally used by the company as an in-house training solution for oil and gas engineers, Virtuworx was quickly rolled out to the public after Cummins and his team recognised the tools they were already successfully using could be key to solving the emerging global challenge of remote work.

“The Virtuworx platform opens up a variety of new possibilities regarding the way in which we interact and engage with one another,” says David Cummins.

Whether you’re talking about a face-to-face meeting, a speech, a Q&A or conference, Cummins believes the ability for hosts to provide an efficient hybrid experience will be key to unlocking success in the future. Virtuworx is already developing the technology to ensure the hybrid model is accessible for those at home, in the office or even on the go.

With Virtuworx Immerse, users can access the entire metaverse creating a bespoke environment that is only as limited as the imagination. Operators can build a unique virtual world around their own digital avatar, moving between conversations and environments much like they would in the real world. This allows attendees the opportunity to effectively engage and network remotely. It’s an experience that can become fully immersive through the use of VR headsets but can also be enjoyed without.

While Immerse allows users to take advantage of the fully virtual experience, the Virtuworx team instinctively understood the need to also make their technology accessible to those on the go.

“As the world embraces the switch to hybrid, it became clear to us that the technology would need to be available to users on the go, as well as those who are sitting at their computers. Engagement and connection can be achieved from wherever you are,” explains David Cummins.

Virtuworx Connect is their answer. By providing a mobile-friendly version of the same platform, the team ensures attendees are able to still be a part of the experience, even if they don’t have access to a computer.

As we look towards the foreseeable future, hybrid events are positioned to become standard. Digital is an inevitable and permanent solution as the world begins to seek new ways to connect in this era. At the end of the day, success will be based on whether or not the technology can solve our craving to once again be around people. Companies like Virtuworx will be key to integrating advanced and exciting technologies to help bridge the gap between virtual and in-person events, giving everyone the opportunity to experience encounters in a meaningful, but also incredibly fun way.