3D Virtual Live Streaming: Revolutionizing the Way We Experience Events

There are a number of potential benefits for the end user when moving to 3D live streaming technology compared to the 2D methods widely used today. These can be seen in various applications and offer a new innovative and immersive solution to viewer experience.

The 3D live streaming technology has been gaining significance in the virtual reality market prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, as certain events can be cost and labor intensive to broadcast. This technology has the potential to revolutionize traditional streaming methods, catering to a growing demand for live and immersive virtual experiences. Unlike 2D live streams currently available through popular social media platforms, this technology aims to provide viewers with an authentic experience. In the past, a number of 3D live streaming events have happened, but utilization of a wide array of hardware and software tools have made this difficult and seen questionable success. At this stage, a common and easy-to-use software solution is likely required to see widespread adoption and growth of 3D streaming to transform the current internet experience offered to users.

The Rise of 3D Virtual Live Streaming

The concept of 3D virtual live streaming is not entirely new but has come a long way in the past dozen or so years, only recently gaining significant traction. Traditionally, streamed events were accessible only through webcasting, which would allow viewers to watch an event live from their computer through internet video players. Although the simplicity of webcasting is still employed today, the rise of 3D technology in the mid-2000s opened new possibilities for creating fully immersive virtual event spaces.

This method enables viewers to attend live events from any location in the world and feel like they are truly present in the event experience. All kinds of live entertainment events could benefit from 3D virtual live streaming, such as sports, music, theater, conferences, and product launches. Since sports and music are among the most favored events to attend in person, the concept of bringing people closer to the experience without having to be physically present is an important factor. 3D virtual live streaming creates an additional market of event attendees, those who prefer to attend the event virtually, and also widening the market for event sponsors and advertisers who would have a new audience to reach, creating a new revenue stream for event organizers.

Benefits of 3D Virtual Live Streaming

Using 3D virtual live streaming technology can have a profound impact on the way events are held, creating a fantastic and entertaining experience for everyone involved. This is due to the many benefits of 3D virtual live streaming. One of the most obvious benefits is that by using virtual reality, everyone can attend the event without being physically present at the venue. Whether the event is a business conference or a live concert, there are likely to be people who are unable to attend if it is held at a specific location. Using virtual reality to stream the event allows those people to participate without inconvenience. For example, a live concert may be difficult for elderly people to attend due to the loud music and the large crowds. By using 3D virtual live streaming, the concert can be broadcasted directly to their homes and viewed with ease. This applies to anyone who is unable to leave their home or who lives too far from the event location.

Understanding the Service

The actual implementation of 3D virtual live streaming Services can be attributed to the rapid development of a few internet technologies like Java, Flash, and NetMeeting together with the fast and big advancements in computer hardware and internet technology. These have made the capability of real-time 3D graphic rendering over the internet into reality. This has resulted in a big race among the gaming industry and various technology companies to be the front runners in developing new innovative internet applications, providing scenarios similar to live virtual events for various applications like online sales presentation, conducting virtual events, and others. Traditionally, static images and text-based methods are used to promote and represent things on the internet. For example, a sales presentation of a new product will involve capturing still images and creating a PowerPoint presentation to display features of the product. A very expensive alternative will be the traditional live events or convention which require pooling of resources, time and money to gather all who are involved in one place to hold the event. With the new 3D virtual live streaming service, it is now possible to conduct the event online with only a fraction of the cost.

How Does 3D Virtual Live Streaming Work?

Viewer tracking is possible in 3D environments, and this is another feature that can be utilized in a virtual live streaming application. By using tracking technology, the engine can display different views of the environment depending on where the viewer is standing. This can also apply to the actual streamed event, wherein different locations can yield different viewing experiences. For example, it may be possible for viewers to see the event from the deck of a ship moored at the back of the hall. This feature would not be possible with traditional 2D video streaming.

3D virtual live streaming Services work by capturing video and audio at an event and transmitting that data across the internet to viewers at remote locations. One of the key features of 3D virtual live streaming is that the viewer is able to interact in real-time with the environment and/or the presenter. This is made possible by a video game engine, which the data is fed into after being captured. This data is deconstructed into various assets and textures and placed into the engine. The assets and textures are then reassembled inside the engine and rendered out as a cohesive, interactive 3D environment.

Features of a 3D Virtual Live Streaming Service

In short, the features of a 3D virtual live stream are the replication of a physical event in a virtual environment. By doing this, it retains the character and atmosphere of the event itself, while allowing attendees to participate from a remote location.

Comparing this to traditional 2D streaming methods, in which audio and video are presented to the attendee with little interactivity, the contrast is clear. The experience provided by the 3D virtual live stream mirrors the physical event far more closely, retaining the ambiance and social interactions. This is very important for events such as trade shows or training events, in which the mood and environment are almost as important as the content being delivered.

When these two concepts merge, it results in a service which is capable of delivering a 3D virtual environment of the event to the attendee, given that they have a PC that is powerful enough to run the application (or plug-in) and a broadband internet connection. What the attendee will experience is nothing short of being in the event itself. It is possible for them to walk around the environment, with their movements being tracked by their avatar, and take in the sights and sounds of the event in an interactive manner.

Case Studies: Successful Implementations in Singapore

The Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) was appointed as the Executive Agency to help the MINDEF (Singapore Ministry of Defence) achieve a significant transformation in training and operations. As part of this transition, DSTA has been exploring various technologies to enhance training and operations. This includes the use of game-based simulation and 3D technology. Both these areas have great potential for capability development and the setting up of a synthetic training environment. Game-based simulation has the potential to significantly enhance training by providing an interactive and compelling learning environment. This offers valuable experience, especially for the younger generation of servicemen who are familiar with computer games. A 3D virtual environment of Singapore can be used as a common database and visualization tool to aid decision support, mission planning, and analysis. The setting up of a virtual Singapore can potentially save on the need to construct physical training facilities, and the resources saved can be utilized in other areas. This has the potential to greatly enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of training and operations in the SAF.

Singapore has been the host of numerous events where there was an average of two to four million tourists at some events. The Singapore 3D map has been developed for nearly a decade. It is one of the most comprehensive 3D city models in the world. The vast amount of knowledge that was gained from this project has helped Singaporean companies to enjoy a head start in the area of 3D virtual technology. This has led to successful research and development of 3D virtual technology for various purposes. These purposes include virtual training and education, urban planning, and the development of a virtual Singapore for marketing and media.

The Impact on Events and Entertainment Industry

Now, when compared to a traditional band giving an impromptu performance in a public place to spread the word about an upcoming tour, a virtual event is far more scalable promotion and has the potential to reach a global audience. An interesting question is whether engagement in virtual events is inherently better, or if it is simply novelty value and the fact that people only attend events that interest them that skews comparisons with real-world events. If the buzz over recent virtual live music events is anything to go by, the former could be true.

The global accessibility of virtual events is also a huge bonus for people living in remote areas where the cost and time of getting to real-world events can be prohibitive. In April 2008, just two weeks before Iron Maiden were set to become the first band to tour in the virtual world of Habbo Hotel, they announced that they would be doing an ‘intimate’ warm-up show in Second Life. High admission prices and the limited availability of tickets for the real-world tour had shut out many fans. A free virtual event that was accessible to any fan with an internet connection was a perfect solution, and the band would have missed a great marketing opportunity if they hadn’t recognized Second Life as a viable marketing platform and put the word out with a press release.

Imagine watching a live music concert where the crowd is so packed you can’t get a good view and end up watching the big screens on the side of the stage. Now imagine going to a virtual live music event where you can wander into a virtual representation of a real-world amphitheater, find a comfortable spot to sit with a good view of the stage and your friends, and actually listen to the music as if you were in the real world. The latter scenario is what one Second Life live music event organizer is trying to achieve, and it’s an excellent example of how 3D virtual spaces can restore and perhaps improve on a real-world experience.

Virtual events provide rich, immersive experiences that offer a level of interactivity that can rival physical events. Regular video streaming services have, for the most part, been one-dimensional broadcast medium – much like a television. With the emergence of social 3D spaces, there is now an opportunity for a new level of engagement. Users can now be ‘present’ at an event and actively engage with the environment and other participants.

Enhancing Audience Engagement and Reach

The ability to refine event content for specific audiences exists with a virtual event since users will register or log in from a traceable IP. Data can be stored and reviewed for future events to understand viewing trends and to identify which types of users are interested in the events. The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) hosts regular virtual events and came to the realization that people from different professions were tuning in to webinars specifically for them. As a result, they revised their marketing strategy to appeal to each different group with a varied event schedule for them to select from. This occurred when Jaguar Land Rover hosted an international event by streaming to 16 countries in 5 different languages using an assistant listening device for real-time translations. This notably has huge potential to increase brand value with customers and employees thanks to the inclusivity and the ability to deliver a consistent message or training.

Research has suggested that virtual event attendee numbers are comparable and in some cases higher than the average viewing figures when the event is hosted physically. This was the case for the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, which generated 481,000 live viewers, 27% more than the previous live event. A notable advantage is that the information is more accessible and less intrusive.

Expanding Revenue Opportunities

LiveWeb has been developed immediately prior to and during the global COVID-19 crisis. The first production release is planned for October 2020. The features of LiveWeb will roll out gradually. Due to its synchronous collaborative nature, we believe LiveWeb 2.0 will take many months or even years to mature in pattern with real-world event staging. We are actively seeking to make alliances with game developers, esports coordinators, and event management companies to create branded or themed virtual event spaces. We hope to work with the events industry to bring a new kind of virtual experience to their customers, one which goes beyond clickable 3D virtual tours of physical spaces.

When games developers first asked to license our virtual world platform for game development and staging of esports events, we knew there was a powerful synergy to be explored. Then, as the global COVID-19 pandemic took hold from early 2020, we received a series of unsolicited inquiries on the potential to use our platform for virtual staging and delivery of business and technology events. These approaches were the catalyst for the events staging capability we call LiveWeb 2.0.

Challenges and Considerations for Event Organizers

The key challenges and considerations for event organisers are the initial set up and production costs, learning curve and commitment level, and possibility of technical difficulties. The live streamed content might not meet some event organizers’ expectations on return of investment, measured by the likely decrease in ticket sales for online attendees. Issa points out that production costs can be somewhat offset by minimal or no live audience capacity, and also potential revenues from pay-per-view or video on demand services, however this means a change in the business model in most cases. The model of providing free live streamed content to promote an event doesn’t yet provide a great revenue opportunity, however ticket sales from increased exposure and a larger fanbase exposed to online content can be expected in the long term. Production costs can be substantial, particularly when dealing with a commitment to regular live streaming and creating a high quality product. Some productions are of high quality, but still lower quality than what their resources allow in an offline environment. While technology is improving, fast internet and computers can be considered an extra expense, and the possibility of hardware failure and needing to replace equipment should not be overlooked. Technical difficulties can make or break a stream and are a challenge to troubleshoot in an environment of many unknown variables. A failed stream can lead to severe time wasting and opportunity cost if there is no alternate provision of entertainment for the audience.

The Future of 3D Virtual Live Streaming

In the future, 3D virtual live streaming services could do more than just replicate the conventional physical event experience – it can potentially create novel event experiences that are not possible in the physical world. This is with tele-portal technology, a concept that will enable users in different locations to meet in a shared virtual environment as if they are in the same place. An example would be a virtual music festival where users from all over the world can gather and interact in a central virtual location. In the physical world, such an event would be impossible due to limitations in cost and logistics. With the recent COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an emphasis on reducing physical contact at events to prevent virus transmission. This has caused cancellation/postponement of events where large groups of people would gather such as concerts, conferences, and sporting events. Such situations have increased demand for ways to conduct events without risking public health. 3D virtual live streaming services presents itself as an alternative as not only can these events be replicated in a virtual environment, the above-mentioned tele-portal technology can enable these events to happen in ways that are not possible in the physical world. An example would be a virtual sporting event where spectators can watch the event in the best seats from the comfort of their own homes, eliminating the risk of harm from bad weather or hooliganism.

Technological Advancements and Innovations

Although 3D technology has been around for many years, significant advancements have been made in recent years to make the technology more accessible to the masses. With new programs and software such as OpenSim and viewer 2, 3D worlds are being developed which are more user friendly and easier to navigate. It is without a doubt that in the near future, the internet will be transitioning from 2D to 3D and virtual events will be commonly held in the foreseeable future. An example of this would be the recent collaboration between England’s Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) and AudioWings to hold the first ever lecture in virtual reality and public discussion to explore ways in which virtual events and collaboration technologies would help the RSA to better fulfill its 21st-century enlightenment mission. An increasing number of mixed reality events are expected to occur and it is important for Singapore to keep up with this trend. Developing a virtual Singapore as part of the metaverse would position the country well to benefit from the shifting internet pattern. It would be a test bed for how activity from the real world could be transferred to the 3D world and could also attract foreign companies interested in marketing and testing new products in virtual Singapore. For example, the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) plans to develop Virtual Singapore, a dynamic three-dimensional (3D) city model and simulation platform, built upon geospatial information and big data, and 3D technologies. This platform will be used for testing concepts and services for Singapore’s Smart Nation initiatives as well as to support research, education, and collaboration between different parties. With an increasingly digital Singapore, many services and activities can be ported over to the virtual world. IDA’s vision ties in well with the future of event technology in Singapore.

Potential Applications in Various Industries

Similar implications are relevant to the business world. In an increasingly globalised environment, many companies hold events with the expectation that employees or other stakeholders will travel large distances to attend. Though physical presence has its own merits and sometimes is necessary, holding such events in virtual space may save time and travel costs without significant loss of message quality. For product launches or marketing events, it is also possible to reach consumers directly within their homes. An excellent and often cited example of this was the Coca Cola Virtual Thirst campaign in Second Life which was aimed at a global audience and allowed individuals to interact within a branded virtual space. Real world event planning is a costly and complex process; many businesses may find that the virtual environment could offer an easier and more practical alternative.

There are many substantial practical outcomes from the above mentioned developments which may directly affect the way in which events are planned, held and attended. One of the most critical is the increased ease through which events can be attended without actually being there. In the context of education, it is now becoming possible to hold lectures and tutorials within virtual worlds; a concept which has been tested in Second Life (see for example: Eduverse). In addition to this, practical experiments with virtual reality simulations in fields such as nursing have yielded positive results and perceived effectiveness from participants. The prospect of holding elements of higher education and vocational training in virtual environments could introduce a new level of accessibility and convenience for individuals who may have trouble attending on campus for various reasons.

Implications for Singapore’s Event Landscape

The implementation of 3D virtual live streaming would greatly impact Singapore’s event landscape by attracting more events to Singapore. This is illustrated by Dr. Amy Yu, Senior Director, Lifestyle Precincts Development of Singapore Tourism Board: “3D virtual live streaming Services will allow events and entertainment to be delivered into a digital environment. One can experience the event with the same look and feel of the actual event venue but in cyberspace. The unlimited space and convenience of attending via the internet will be attractive to consumers. Organisers can now widen their target audience beyond Singapore to the international community.” This would mean that events in Singapore would be more accessible not only to the local community but the global community. With a wider audience, events can definitely expect more interest and participation, thus making it more lucrative for event organisers to stage events in Singapore. Another implication is the need for events to be more distinctive in order to compete with an increasing number of global events. With digital events, consumers can choose to be “virtually” somewhere else. Hence, there is a risk of local events losing their local audience. While STAR’s experience is that digital events can, in fact, generate interest for the actual event, it is still important that local events have a unique selling point to entice the local audience to attend the actual event. This could mean that local events would need to improve in terms of organization and content and create events that are more exciting and entertaining. The need for more creative events can also benefit the Singapore event management industry with more event management companies needed to create the demand for creative events.