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Virtual Reality Concert In Helsinki Attracts Over 1 Million Spectators

Helsinki virtual concertCity of Helsinki
A virtual reality concert in Helsinki has attracted over one million spectators, as the coronavirus thwarted Finland’s usual May Day celebrations this year. Headlined by Finnish rap group JVG, the virtual gig saw a total of 12% of Finland’s population tune in, while almost 150,000 viewers went so far as to create virtual avatars for themselves. Developed as part of a wider Virtual Helsinki tourist initiative, the virtual May Day celebrations provide perhaps the biggest example yet of the potential of virtual reality concerts and virtual tourism.
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.

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.

It Can Add Excitement To Sports. Virtual reality can have a big impact in the world of sports. For fans, virtual reality provides the opportunity to watch a sporting event like never before. Fans can watch an entire game or match feeling like they are in the middle of it all. There have been some major sporting events like the Super Bowl and the Final Four that are already implementing virtual reality into their viewing options. This could be the future for all sports.

Today In: AIExplaining the genesis of the virtual reality concert, Helsinki’s mayor Jan Vapaavuori said: "First of May is one of the most prominent public holidays in Finland. People have generations-long traditions of celebrating ‘Vappu’ in large groups, outside, in restaurants and picnics. Under the current circumstances the City had to come up with an alternative celebration plan that would allow people to still enjoy themselves - while staying safe and in accordance with the COVID-19 restrictions.”

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.

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.

"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.
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