WDBE 2020
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WDBE 2020 to Redefine the Virtual Summit Experience Using Epic Games’ Unreal Engine Technology

Though we may be socially distant, we can find new ways to connect in these challenging times. COVID-19 gave the World Summit on Digital Built Environment, WDBE, a reason to redefine itself and share a new virtual event experience. Taking place on September 29-30, Virtual WDBE 2020 will use a combination of Unreal Engine and Zoan’s virtual event platform to transport attendees in real time to “Illusion City”, a digital environment inspired by Helsinki and Tallinn.

During the first lockdown, the organizing team of the WDBE summit decided to shift all of its events online and started looking for new collaborators at the forefront of the digital built environment. In a week, the first draft of an entirely virtual WDBE summit was produced with the help of the leading VR studio in Europe, Zoan. Featured in Forbes and Business Insider, Helsinki attracted over 1 million spectators with a live concert production featuring Finnish rap duo JVG, who performed in a virtual version of the city created by Zoan.

With the help from Unreal Engine, the WDBE summit platform will use pixel streaming technology to morph into an immersive free-roam Illusion City, which can be experienced in real time, with any device during the 2 days of the summit. This is the first time in the world a business conference is fused with gaming technology to replicate and enhance the experience of learning, knowledge sharing, and networking. It also brings us closer to being a more sustainable alternative to traditional conferences.

Through collaboration with the WDBE community, Helsinki is providing a platform for future-builders to reimagine sustainable urbanization. “The COVID crisis has forced us to rethink many aspects of business, government, and indeed life. This event demonstrates how a crisis can function as a launchpad for something completely new and innovative – and new and innovative is exactly what the City of Helsinki likes to partner with”, says Mayor of Helsinki Jan Vapaavuori.

A keynote speaker entering the virtual stage, Image: Zoan

Tallinn joins the platform by bringing a collection of its landmarks to be part of the story.  “WDBE2020 gives us a one of a kind opportunity to visit a joint city of Talsinki virtually – an “Illusion city“, for now. The twin city connected via a tunnel is a concept that has been discussed thoroughly, but the magnitude of the project can be better understood via a virtual visit. I hope that it is also possible in real life one day, but until then we can enjoy the view from a safe distance,” Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart adds.

“Our friends at Zoan continue to impress us with how they innovatively use Unreal Engine, and Epic Games is happy to be supporting their work on the Illusion City as part of WDBE this year. This will offer a truly unique and engaging virtual experience for the WDBE audience, and we’re looking forward to joining everyone in real time”, states Ken Pimentel, Strategic Business Development for AEC at Epic Games. Epic Games will provide the opening keynote speech and will host two workshops for the attendees during the summit.

Source: WDBE 2020, September 1, 2020

Images: Zoan

About the author

Aarni Heiskanen

Aarni Heiskanen, Construction Innovation Agent, is hailed as a Top 100 influencer in construction. Aarni has been a pioneer in computer-aided design, he has co-founded a business software company, and worked as a certified management consultant. At present, he runs AE Partners, a communication firm. Aarni holds a master's degree in architecture.

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