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VR Online Event in Helsinki Signifies the Way Forward for Virtual Tourism

A recent online event by JVG became the largest of its kind in Finland, as it was attended by more than half a million people. The Finnish capital Helsinki is already looking forward to more advanced immersive gigs to cement its position as a global virtual event hotspot.

Based on information from the National Police Board of Finland, the current year’s Vappu Eve celebrations were unusually peaceful, given the fact that people generally enjoy themselves in public gatherings during the event. This year, Helsinki citizens adhered to the stay-at-home orders. But, this did not take away from their enjoyment as they were joined by more than 100 thousand people in a virtual gig held at the Senate Square of the city. People rejoiced as Finnish rap band JVG performed live on stage before a famous cathedral of the city.

It was a real-time virtual event and might have been somewhat less intense than being at a conventional physical world concert. But, it was a technological milestone in terms of VR as people were not even required to wear VR headsets for enjoying the concert. The VR feature also featured an interactive audience that contributed more to the reality concept.

Helsinki has a virtual clone in the form of Virtual Helsinki, the digital representation of the Finnish capital which was unveiled in 2018. It was developed utilising 3D modelling details provided by the city, combined with images and drawings. It helps users gain a fresh perspective on the major landmarks of the city, and is reportedly one of the most realistic virtual reality experiences out there.

The JVG virtual event was a success. Image source: theguardian

The immersive platform makes a strong point for Helsinki being considered as the world’s virtual capital. Laura Aalto, CEO, Helsinki Marketing, said that the city was going through a digital transformation, which includes technology being utilised for the purpose of personalising services for citizens and providing greater convenience. Helsinki is being regarded as an ideal location of the development, rollout and evaluation of VR technology, as it is not too small and not too large.

Virtual reality trials have become a reality following the lockdown scenarios caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Aalto, the ongoing situation produced a suitable opportunity for using Virtual Helsinki to benefit the city’s population. Accordingly, the development of the gig platform Virtual Helsinki was sped up, features were added to it to improve user experience, including the introduction of audience avatars. Helsinki VR studio Zoan utilised the five weeks available to achieve output that would generally take a lot longer to finish.

Upwards of 450 thousand computers joined in to watch the live performance, with the estimated figure of viewers being somewhere in the 700 thousand range. It gained the distinction of becoming the largest online event in Finland. Many of the viewers were present there through their virtual avatars. The success of the VR-based online event is being seen as a significant step towards potentially enhancing the future of travelling, as Helsinki gears up to become a flagbearer for sustainable tourism.

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