Global HR Summit 2020 Success

Global HR Summit produced by Educators in VR.Educators in VR co-produced the 3-day Global HR Summit with Genius Ventures and BentoHR, September 8-10, 2020, in AltspaceVR. We thought we’d share a few of our thoughts about the event and images here, to help you understand how easy (and challenging) it is to host an event in virtual reality.

Honestly. Skip the Zoom Fatigue and online conferencing tools and go straight to VR. As proven over the past few days, while there are still challenges to VR conferences, the biggest challenge is mental. Once you get past the fears and myths and step right in, to quote the keynote speaker, Nick Vujicic of Life Without Limbs and AIA – Attitude is Altitude:

“It’s amazing to feel like you are right here with everyone, yet I’m right in my own home…to add to the experience, I just heard the garbage truck outside my window, yet I’m here in this room with you from around the world. It’s beautiful!”

This was also a fundraiser for the Virtual World Society. Founder Tom Furness inspired the packed audience with two events and attended most of them, including the social where we hung out in a virtual hot tub solving the challenges of integration of immersive technologies in business and education.

The closing keynote with Matt Fleckenstein of Microsoft Hololens Marketing and strategies, showed us the future of innovation, manufacturing, and education as we enter the world of mixed realities and extended reality (XR). It was inspiring and stunning to realize that the future is here, now.

Will Business Get This?

Educators get VR. They see the potential for connecting with students, breaking down barriers and borders. They see the potential for empathy and relationship building, for collaboration and sharing. They see the dream of unleashing imagination and offering unique problem-solving situations to guide students into the future workplace. The challenge for the teams from Genius Ventures and BentoHR was whether or not human resource professionals and corporate businesses would get VR.

The obstacles they overcame were tremendous. This wasn’t like a conference where you send out a few emails, post some fliers in the real world and across social media and hope people show up. People had to be convinced that this was worth their time. More than that, they had to know there was solid ROI behind all the virtual reality stuff that their children and grandchildren play games.

Matt Burns of BentoHR, and Navjeet Chinna and Marah Berezowsky of Genius Ventures spent countless hours personally calling speakers and attendees to encourage them to participate. They talked about the potential for virtual reality not just for events but for businesses. They shared the facts and research that backs up their claims, the fact that by 2025, 25% of G2000 firms will use “integrated workplace sensing systems to optimize and personalize the employee experience,” and that by 2025, this will not only become normalized, but 20% of G2000 workers will use “fit for purpose” forms of human augmentation and assistance, expanding into exoskeletons, robotics, AR, VR, and wearables to ease workflow and communication. The technology is here. It is up to businesses to embrace it, and watch their efficiency and productivity improve, and employee attitudes improve as the workplace becomes more interactive and, literally, visually helpful.

The feedback from speakers and participants across the board was amazing. They got it. They loved that they could connect with others from around the world from the comfort of their home or office. They loved the wonder that came with the experience as well as the ease of use. It worked. There is a new energy and interest. Most importantly, this wasn’t Zoom. The ripple has started and is spreading around offices and companies that this is something they need to embrace, and fast. Especially right now.

This event would not have happened if it wasn’t for their dedication. We’re eager to have them present an event soon for Educators in VR to discuss how they overcame the challenge so many of us face on a regular basis: How to convince administration to accept virtual reality as a viable educational tool.

Save Money and the World

As mentioned in our original lessons learned from hosting a VR conference and research into the benefit to the environment for going truly green with virtual reality conferences and meetings, a 3-day event like the Global HR Summit would have cost hundreds if not thousands to attend, and thousands to produce.

For under USD $100, a Windows 10 computer or Mac with Windows partition, or under $500 VR headset, this conference was yours to attend and meet people from around the world changing how business works and bringing together educators, students, and human resource managers, consultants, trainers, and experts to face the future of digital transformation together.

We also saved many trees, and in this time of massive wildfires around the world in addition to the pandemic, protected lives. Seems grandiose, but we heard conversations across the three days of people so grateful they didn’t have to travel right now. There were stories behind that sentence.

Slide Shows Aren’t Why They are There

Due to technical and security issues with AltspaceVR, slides became more than cumbersome to use. The team managing the speakers convinced speakers, many long-time keynote and public speakers, to step away from their dependency on Powerpoint and Keynote, and embrace conversation and storytelling as a way to connect with the audience. We learned this lesson repeatedly over the past two years, and our co-producers were brave enough to go with that premise.

It worked.

While visuals can be helpful, they are more often a crutch, helping the speaker remember what comes next rather than engaging with the audience. The speakers set their fears aside and embraced the conversational style. By the second day, the events started to run a little behind with audience interaction as people became more accustomed to this new format. They loved it. Conversations and imagination were ignited and people wanted to be a part of this.

Educators in VR will continue to push forward and evolve this as engagement thrives in VR.

It’s All About the Event Space – Or Is It?

As Educators in VR expands our conference and event consultation and services, we continue to be challenged with the concept of the event space type.

There is one theory that we need to provide comfortable and familiar event spaces, seats, tables, microphones, screens, auditoriums, stages, etc., to make the audience feel comfortable and transition better to VR. Another theory is that in virtual reality, anything is possible. Why not have events in outer space, underwater, or hanging upside down? There are pros and cons to both.

What many attendees didn’t know is that the event presentation space was custom developed by Microsoft and AltspaceVR for the Microsoft Developer Days conference earlier this year, one of the first annual corporate conferences to be mostly in VR. We were able to work with Microsoft to agree to allow us to use the event templates, and we are so grateful. People enjoyed them.

Global HR Summit Social in the Hot Tub.The social event space was developed and designed by the Educators in VR world building team, one of many we are now offering for rental of VR event, conference, and educational classrooms. We customized it each day with interactables and had a fun hot tub complete with bubbles and fish on the last day. This brought fun and interactivity to the event.

The team behind the Global HR Summit was determined to introduce HR professionals to this new medium as it is game-changing for their industry and the workplace. Offering a familiar transition was wiser than throwing them out into space, floating in the air surrounded by stellar objects on their first adventure into VR.

However, this audience was very savvy, getting the point of the potential of virtual reality communication and interaction immediately. By day two we were hearing participants ask questions about the event spaces and why the limits weren’t pushed more.

It was so exciting to see their enthusiasm for seeing how far VR and virtual worlds could go to not just emulate the real world but push the boundaries of imagination in meeting spaces. Producing and hosting more than 600 VR events a year to introduce VR to educators and the education industry, we are so ready to embrace that mindset!

It Takes a Team and a Village

The Educators in VR Production Team is long experienced in VR and virtual event productions, from classroom design and development to hosting thousands of attendees from around the world. Working with the teams from Genius Ventures and BentoHR was a delight as they took our advice seriously, yet were willing to make this their own as well, which we respected. As always in this innovative space, lessons were learned on all sides.

Much thanks goes to Tom Furness of the Virtual World Society, our Educators in VR production and video crew, and everyone at Genius Ventures and BentoHR. Together, we embraced the technology, overcame the obstacles, introduced dozens of people to this new way of interacting and connecting, and started a conversation that will be continued for years to come.

The key characteristic it takes to produce and host events in VR is belief. You have to believe this is possible. Only with belief in the future and potential of this technology will we move into it willingly. It’s here. Now. We just need to walk into the virtual light together.

Here are some highlights from the past three days.

Global HR Summit 3-Day Conference with Free Tickets

Global HR Summit Banner

Update: September 8-10. The event is now 3 days!

As educators, education administrations, learners, trainers, researchers…we are all about job opportunity. Today’s human resources professionals are our gateway to those jobs, from hiring to firing and from education to innovation. Today’s teachers and human resources staff are faced with a common problem: How do we prepare for a future with immersive technology and how do we integrate it into the workforce?

Educators in VR’s mission is to integrate spatial technologies, VR/AR/XR, into education and training. And we are proud to announce that we are teaming up to produce the first ever VR conference for HR professions, the Global HR Summit September 8-10, 2020, in AltspaceVR. Tickets are still available, and we’ve a special deal for our members below.

This two-day event brings together top leaders in HR from around the world representing corporations, small businesses, and HR experts covering topics we need to know as educators preparing students of all ages for the new digital and immersive world.

There are panels, discussions, podcasts, and plenty of social networking time to connect with these amazing influencers and world changers throughout the event.

A few of the speaker highlights include Tom Furness of the Virtual World Society will kick the summit off with a keynote exploring the past, present, and future of immersive technologies.

Global HR Summit - Speakers.Our own Caitlin Krause of MindWise will be teaming up with Matt Burns of Thinking Inside the Box podcast, BentoHR, and leading producer of the summit, for a fascinating discussion on how to develop a health relationship with technology.

Jill Katz, Founder and Chief Change Officer at Assemble HR Consulting will be sharing her expertise for working parents and the new normal we are all being challenged. Christopher Lind of General Electric will share his expertise in reimagining learning and talent development. Joey Price of the popular podcast Business, Life, and Coffee, and co-founder of Jumpstart:HR brings his expertise and podcast to the summit.

Hung Lee, editor of the leading industry newsletter “Recruiting Brainfood,” teams up with Marlo Brook of AVATAR Partners, an immersive reality and virtual collaboration solution development company for aerospace, construction, defense, healthcare, and manufacturing, will be sharing the virtual stage with Navjeet Chhina to offer solutions on the keys to productive work force communication in the new normal. Navjeet Chhina, Founder and CEO of Genius Ventures, and Tom Emrich, pioneer and leader in AR and VR wearable technologies as Vice President of Product at 8th Wall, which develops AR content for top brands including Sony. Miller Lite, British Gas, Swiss Airlines, Porsche, Toyota, Time Magazine, and more. The two of them will explore the future of augmented reality in business.

Global HR Summit- Free for Students and Educators.Tickets: Normally hundreds to thousands of dollars for a real world event, tickets are USD $49 and $99 individually for YouTube or AltspaceVR access with team/group discounts. Proceeds of the event benefit the Virtual World Society, helping expand their outreach, research, and educational programs.

Because we know you do not want to miss this event, we’ve made arrangements for Educators in VR members to receive free tickets to the full 2-day event. This is an excellent opportunity to gain access to the leaders in human resources and understand what the future of immersive tech holds for educators, schools, trainers, and students.

To receive your free ticket, register for the event and use EDUCATORSINVR as the discount code. We will contact you to confirm your AltspaceVR username and email if necessary.

HR in VR Meetups

Matt Burns - HR in VR Meetup.Educators in VR is also working with Matt Burns, the brilliant creative behind the Global HR Summit, of BentoHR and the Thinking Inside the Box podcast to host weekly meetups called HR in VR on Thursdays in AltspaceVR to discuss the future of immersive and digital technologies for human resources professionals, but also for educators and learner to understand the job future in this especially challenging times. As we move more and more into an online cultural, not just in service to communication, it offers unique challenges and opportunities for careers in spatial technologies. The next events are July 23 and July 30.

Tom Furness and the Virtual World Society in AltspaceVR

Tom Furness Keynote the window - Educators in VR International Conference

Tom Furness is coming back to AltspaceVR on Tuesday, April 21, 2020, and this time, he is bringing part of his Virtual World Society team to share what they are doing to turn the education industry upside down with virtual reality.

We’ve shared our love and passion for Tom Furness and the Virtual World Society here on our site and through our social media channels, and if you missed his presentation at the 2020 Educators in VR International Summit, watch it now on our Educators in VR YouTube channel.

Professor Furness will be discussing the work of the Virtual World Society, and announcing some very exciting news that will impact all of us.

He also brings us some homework and requests our support for some very worthy causes the Virtual World Society is supporting.

First, homework. Before the event, please complete this short 2 minute survey that asks you how you are doing with COVID-19 isolation and how you can help the Virtual World Society and how they can help you. The results will be announced at the event.

Next, you will learn about the generous work the Virtual World Society is doing for the Make a Wish program and other community events and activities. Please support these worthy causes by donating and spreading the word as it takes a community.

Consider joining the Virtual World Society and be among the growing membership determined to democratize and disrupt VR in education.

Tom Furness, Virtual World Society founder.Dr. Tom Furness is a virtual reality pioneer and inventor who has earned the title “Grandfather of Virtual Reality.” He is Professor in the University of Washington Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering, and the founder of the Human Interface Technology Lab at the University of Washington and its sister labs at the University of Canterbury and University of Tasmania. He is known for his contributions developing virtual interface technology and its applications in education, training, medicine, design and entertainment. He and his students and colleagues have spun off 27 companies in the immersive computing space. He is also the general manager and owner of the RATLab (Rocking and Thinking Laboratory) and Founder of the Virtual World Society.

Expect to see Professor Furness and his Virtual World Society team members in and around AltspaceVR and the metaverse more often, but we won’t share any more details. You’ll just have to show up tomorrow and see what all the fuss and excitement is about!

PS: This week is his 77th birthday. To celebrate and honor his life-long work and passion, join the Virtual World Society and let’s make his dreams come true.

Tom Furness ENCORE in 2020 Educators in VR International Summit

Tom Furness presenting in AlstpaceVR.Tom Furness is back for an ENCORE at the 2020 Educators in VR International Summit on Friday – today at 6PM PST in AltspaceVR.

Tom was our keynote speaker Monday at the start of the Educators in VR International Summit and part way through his presentation when, we assume the power of his presentation combined with the impact of the Educators in VR International Summit blew out the power in his University of Washington VR Lab.

This ground-breaking pioneer in VR and founder of the Virtual World Society worked with his team to restore power, but too late for the event. He’s been with us on and off throughout the week, and is now back to not only look at the past, to the beginings of virtual reality, a field he developed, creating the prototypes that eventually became the devices we wear on our faces, but where we are going in the future as we play with fire and push the technology even further.

Come join us to not only celebrate the life and thought-leader, Tom Furness, but help us boost the event through the last 24 hours into the record books!

Tom Furness - Speaker Card - 2020 Educators in VR International summit.

International Summit Spotlight: Tom Furness

2020 Educators in VR - International Summit Site Banner 1000px

We are so excited to announce that right after the “Rock In the Summit” opening ceremonies for the 2020 Educators in VR International Summit, Monday, February 17, at 2:00 PM PST / 5:00 PM EST / 10:00 PM UK/GMT in AltspaceVR, Professor Tom Furness will be our keynote speaker.

Tom Furness will also be on a panel called “Vision of the Future” with Gabriel Rene, Anson Ho, and Charlie Fink, hosted by Daniel Dyboski-Bryant in ENGAGE, Wednesday, February 19 at 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM PST / 4:30 PM EST / 9:30 PM UK/GMT.

Presenting at 3:30 PM PST / 6:30 PM EST / 11:30 PM UK/GMT, Tom Furness will discuss “Playing with Fire.” Over a career spanning 53 years, Prof. Furness has explored and developed technologies for getting bandwidth between humans and computing machines. His work has encompassed fighter cockpits, virtual reality, retinal displays, educational tools, medical simulators, pain, phobias, molecular modeling, scanning fiber endoscopes and entertainment systems. This quest has been punctuated with side trips and ‘aha’ experiences that led to unanticipated destinations. Dr. Furness plans to talk about lessons learned on his journey including unexpected delights – with a focus on the potential of VR to set minds on fire for education and training applications.

Tom Furness is the founder of the Virtual World Society, and a pioneer in human interface technology and virtual reality. He is widely known as the ‘grandfather of virtual reality.’ He received the B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Duke University and the Ph.D. in Engineering and Applied Science from the University of Southampton, England. Dr. Furness is currently a professor of Industrial Engineering with adjunct professorships in Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Human-Centered Design and Engineering at the University of Washington. Educators in VR celebrated the life of this amazing pioneer recently.

Furness is the founder of the Human Interface Technology Laboratory (HIT Lab) at UW and founder and international director of the HIT Lab NZ at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, NZ and the HIT Lab Australia at the University of Tasmania, Launceston, Tasmania. He is also an Erskine Fellow and Adjunct Professor at the University of Canterbury and the University of Tasmania.

Prior to joining the faculty at the University, Dr. Furness served a combined 23 years as an U.S. Air Force officer and civilian at the Armstrong Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, where he developed advanced cockpits and virtual interfaces for the Department of Defense. He is the author of the Super Cockpit program and served as the Chief of Visual Display Systems and Super Cockpit Director until he joined the University of Washington in 1989.

Dr. Furness lectures widely and has appeared in many national and international network and syndicated television science and technology documentaries and news programs. He is the inventor of the personal eyewear display, the virtual retinal display, the HALO display and holds 25 patents in advanced sensor, virtual display and interface technologies. With his colleagues Dr. Furness has started 27 companies, two of which are traded on NASDAQ at a market capitalization of > $ 10 B. In 1998 he received the Discover Award for his invention of the virtual retinal display and in 2013 the SPIE Prism Award for the invention of the ChromaID technology. He has also received the Proto Award, the IEEE VRTG Career Award, and the AWE Lifetime Achievement Award. He is the founder and chairman of the Virtual World Society, a non-profit for extending virtual reality as a learning system for families and other humanitarian applications. He is a fellow in the IEEE.

We are honored to have Professor Furness speak at the Educators in VR International Summit.

To Attend the 2020 Educators in VR International Summit

The 2020 Educators in VR International Summit is February 17-22. It features over 170 speakers in 150+ events across multiple social and educational platforms including AltspaceVR, ENGAGE, rumii, Mozilla Hubs, and Somnium Space.

The event requires no registration, and is virtual only, free, and open to the public. Platform access is required, so please install one of the above platforms to attend the International Summit. You may attend in 2D on a desktop or laptop computer with a headphone and microphone (USB gaming headphone recommended), or with a virtual device such as the Oculus Go, Quest, and Rift, Vive, and other mobile and tethered devices. Please note the specifications and requirements of each platform.

The majority of our events are on AltspaceVR. AltspaceVR is available for Samsung Gear, Steam Store for HTC Vive, Windows Mixed Reality, and the Oculus Store for Rift, Go and Quest users. Download and install the 2D version for use on your Windows desktop computer.

GoFundMe Campaign for the Educators in VR International SummitEducators in VR is a social, member organization dedicated to providing educational events, trainings, and workshops for educators and learners to prepare them for the future of spatial technologies in education. We offer free weekly workshops in AltspaceVR and other platforms. We need your help to fund this International Summit as well as our ongoing educational programs, workshops, outreach, and scholarship programs. Please help us out by donating to our GoFundMe campaign, and consider volunteering by filling out our volunteering application. We need volunteers for as little as an hour or two. Every hour is appreciated. Familiarity with VR and VR platforms recommended.

Consider subscribing to our Educators in VR event subscription channel to receive regular reminders of upcoming events, including International Summit events.

Join our Educators in VR Discord group, Facebook, and follow us on Twitter for information on meetups and how to become more involved.

2020 Educators in VR International Summit Schedule. GoFundMe Educators in VR Campaign.

Virtual Reality Pioneer: Tom Furness

Tom FurnessIn November 2015, Tom Furness, considered the grandfather of virtual reality, sat down with the team at Voices of the VR Podcast for an in depth interview called “#245: 50 years of VR with Tom Furness: The Super Cockpit, Virtual Retinal Display, HIT Lab, & Virtual World Society.” It’s still worth a listen and read.

Tom Furness has been thinking about virtual reality longer than most VR users have been alive. He built some of the first helmet-mounted displays for the US Air Force, and what would become the Super Cockpit. Leaving the military, he helped found the Human Interface Technology Lab at the University of Washington in Seattle, and created the non-profit, educational association, the Virtual World Society.

The Super Cockpit design by Tom Furness for the US Military.

From the University of Washington Faculty bios:

[Tom Furness] is the inventor of the personal eyewear display, the virtual retinal display, the HALO display and holds 19 patents in advanced sensor, display and interface technologies. With his colleagues Dr. Furness has started 27 companies, two of which are traded on NASDAQ at a market capitalization of > $8 B (USD). In 1998 he received the Discover Award for his invention of the virtual retinal display.

In addition to his academic appointments, Dr. Furness was the Chairman and President of the first Augmented Reality Company: ARToolworks Inc. recently acquire by DAQRI. He also runs his own ‘skunkworks’ company: RATLab LLC (RAT = rockin’ and thinkin’) where he and his colleagues develop advanced technologies for spinoff companies. His current projects deal with developing pulse diagnosis as an early warning system for cardiovascular disease and the start-up of the Virtual World Society, a non-profit for extending virtual reality as a learning system for families.

Tom is also co-inventor of the SPM (spectral matching) technology licensed to Visualant Inc. He continues to serve as a Senior Scientific Advisor for the company and recently received the 2013 SPIE Prism Award for his invention of the ChromaID technology.

Projects by the Virtual World Society include helping 28 sixth grade students at Robert Eagle Staff Middle School in Seattle, overseen by a team of University of Washington engineering students, build virtual worlds that teach STEM subjects related to gravity, light, scale, and momentum. Continue reading