Held on the evening of Thursday April 30th, over 700,000 Finnish residents ‘attended’ the virtual gig, featuring one of the most popular bands in Finland, JVG, who performed in Helsinki’s Senate Square. The locals were then joined by ‘virtual tourists’ from such nations as the US, the UK, Germany and Sweden, increasing the total viewer count to a whopping 1.4 million.
The city hosted a virtual gathering and concert to celebrate May Day, and more than 10% of Finland's population tuned in.Finland has a population of around six million, and 700,000 viewers tuned into the virtual concert, according to the city of Helsinki, meaning that nearly 12% of the country watched the event.
There aren’t any official lists of virtual concert attendance numbers, but this figure is likely one of the highest on record. If nothing else, it clearly demonstrates how public demand for virtual reality experiences is growing, and may likely remain even after the coronavirus pandemic ends.
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Viewers could watch the virtual concert on their smartphones and computers, while there was also the option to create avatars for themselves in order to simulate a greater sense of ‘really being there.’ In fact, almost 150,000 viewers took this option, enabling them to interact with JVG in real-time via the use of gestures, emojis and applause.Organisers are calling the virtual gig the most ambitious use to date of the Virtual Helsinki platform, which is a digital twin of Helsinki developed by Finnish developer Zoan. Built using the Unreal Engine using open data from the City of Helsinki, the Virtual Helsinki platform solidifies the city’s reputation as the European Capital of Smart Tourism.
"By combining Helsinki’s collaboration with Zoan and our tradition for new technology experimentation we were able to create a virtual experience that brought together some of the traditional elements of ‘Vappu’ to a new virtual reality," Jan Vapaavuori explained. "Also, under these extraordinary circumstances Helsinki wants to be the most functional city in the world. Virtual Helsinki Vappu shows how a crisis can be used as a driver for technology adaptation that might normally take years.” It still remains an open question as to whether virtual concerts and virtual reality events will be as big after the coronavirus pandemic’s end. However, by demonstrating that they can work and that thousands if not millions of people can enjoy them, the City of Helsinki has shown that the future could very well become increasingly virtual. For better and for worse.
Oculus VR is a company that launched a Kickstarter project to release virtual reality goggles in the 2010s. Their goggles brought a lot of interest to virtual reality after many years of not a lot of interest by industry or consumers.
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