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Virtual K-pop band inaugurate new Shanghai stadium

K/DA, a virtual girl group composed of four League of Legends characters, performed during the opening ceremony for the League of Legends World Championship grand final at the new Pudong Football Stadium in Shanghai on 31 October.

The competition, one of the biggest dates in the esports calendar, was the first event at the 33,765-capacity venue, constructed ahead of the AFC Asian Cup in 2023.

K/DA, created by League of Legends developer Riot Games, performed via augmented reality (AR), appearing on a physical stage in front of a crowd of 6,312 fans, according to tournament operator TJ Sports. The event was watched by an addition 3.8 million people online.

In addition to the virtual performers, the opening ceremony featured a number of real-world artists and dancers, including Chinese pop star Lexie Liu.

K/DA made their debut during a similar AR concert at the 2018 World Championships, which were held in Incheon, South Korea.

 


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Dutch DJs W&W plan ‘world’s first XR livestream’

In what promoter Alda Events is calling the dance music world’s first-ever extended-reality (XR) live stream, Dutch DJ duo W&W have announced a show that will take place inside a specially created 3D virtual world.

For the 23 May event, the pair – who have been among DJ Mag’s top 100 DJs since 2010, and are renowned for their live shows – will play a set in a custom-made virtual stadium overlaid with futuristic, videogame-like ‘XR’ effects, pointing the way towards “a potential future route for the events industry during the global lockdown,” says Alda.

In addition to Alda – the part-Insomniac-owned, Amsterdam-based EDM promoter – the show’s partners include Chinese sports brand Li-Ning (which lends its name to the virtual ‘Li-Ning Arena’), DJ Mag, livestreaming platform Twitch and the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).

The concert will see W&W “implement green screens to enhance the illusion of their creative 3D reality”, surrounding themselves with “a series of mind-blowing special effects”

According to the show announcement, the concert will see W&W “implement green screens to enhance the illusion of their creative 3D reality”, surrounding themselves with “a series of mind-blowing special effects” and “creating a space that welcomes everyone”.

The W&W shows follows Travis Scott’s pre-recorded show in the videogame Fortnite, which was seen by an estimated 12 million people and won praise for its spectacular visual effects, as well as the boom in livestreamed shows of all kinds during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The event will be streamed live on Facebook and Twitch on Saturday 23 May at 5pm CEST.

W&W virtual livestream poster

 


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Techno Files: New technology for July 2019

Crystal Interactive

We’ve all stared agog at clips of Coldplay’s audience lighting up stadiums thanks to their LED Xylobands, a riot of choreographed flashes and patterns that enhance the excitement going on onstage. But while those wristbands were simply about creating visual effects, Crystal Interactive’s wearables go one step further and offer genuine interaction.

Powered by PixMob’s Klik – an event engagement platform – their badges, buttons and wristbands offer registration, interaction, attendee tracking, gamification and even paging (ask your parents), not to mention a dedicated app to manage profiles, services, and information.

Naturally, all three options are reusable and recyclable, have a multi-day battery life and are completely brandable – the badge even comes with its own printer for making stickers. The company also offers post-event analytics, allowing organisers deep insight into attendee behaviour and rich data maps.

 


Sphero Specdrums

First there was Oddball, the drum machine in a ball. Then there was KAiKU, the music glove with built-in gyroscope and accelerometer. And now we have Specdrums, the app-enabled ring that turns colours into music with a simple tap.

“Make the world your instrument,” says the website, and the promo video is full of shiny, happy people merrily making beats and tunes while skateboarding, doing graffiti art and riding the bus downtown. As you do.

But there is some serious tech behind the novelty: the ring can mimic the function of digital drums and MIDI pads, and can be set to trigger an infinite number of sounds, even ones you’ve recorded yourself. They also connect to any Bluetooth MIDI application on mobile or desktop, meaning they can be patched into the likes of GarageBand or even Logic. Not bad for something that looks like a Fisher Price toy.

 


VRJAM

The mooted 5G rollout that’s coming soon will, it is claimed, lead to all sorts of exciting and innovative new services and platforms for content creators and music fans. Things like VRJAM, for example – the latest piece of digital wizardry that’s a solution to a problem you didn’t know existed.

The premise is simple: it’s a real-time streaming platform for live VR and AR content, an immersive, interactive app that allows users to “experience artists’ performances in new and undreamt of ways.” Basically, it functions like an interactive Holodeck on your phone, with artists able to visualise shows on the fly, inside a computer-animated world populated by CGI avatars.

It all seems very impressive, and with backing from the likes of Google and Samsung, the tech is expected to have far-reaching applications – sporting and business events, or any type of conference, can be digitally reimagined and broadcast to the world.

 


Exposure Analytics

Analytics are all the rage, it seems, and with good reason. Aside from providing feedback for ROI and various other KPIs, it makes sense for any large-scale event to track footfall and flows – particularly from a safety and comfort standpoint – and Exposure Analytics have come up with a unique set of digital services for doing precisely that.

Using three different types of sensor – each optimised to record specific sets of data – they can provide real-time reporting on any number of metrics such as heat maps, dwell time, audience distribution, capacity and even mood detection from their customised API and dashboard.

Having worked on more than 3,000 events worldwide, and with brands such as Canon and Mercedes-Benz, their award-winning tech is clearly another useful tool for event professionals and organisers, and takes analytical insight to the next level.

 


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LN unveils new augmented-reality products

Live Nation has unveiled a suite of new augmented-reality (AR) products designed to enable artists and brands to connect with fans at its festivals and concerts.

Revealed today (20 June) at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in France, the AR solutions include products allowing fans to stream events live, get festival line-up info, create custom festival photos and virtually experience being backstage.

The first brand to take advantage of the technology is Korean carmaker Hyundai, which will use the 25th Music Midtown festival in Atlanta, Georgia, to showcase its new Sonata model.

The five Live Nation AR products currently in development are:

“More than 90% of live music fans globally say brands can enhance the live experience, and augmented reality presents endless opportunities,” says Kevin Chernett, Live Nation’s EVP of global partnerships and content distribution.

“The ability to drive culture through creativity while also adding value to fans allows brands to elevate expectations at live music events.”

Coachella, produced by rival promoter AEG, debuted its own AR experience at this year’s event, providing fans with AR filters that superimposed space-themed objects onto the Sahara stage and throughout the tent.

 


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StubHub debuts ‘practical use for AR’ with immersive view

StubHub has upgraded its virtual view feature, which allows potential ticket buyers to preview their seat in virtual reality (VR) before buying, with an AR component, in a development the company’s CTO, Matt Swann, calls “an important milestone for the industry”.

The latest version of the StubHub app uses augmented reality (AR) – the same technology that allowed Pokémon Go players to catch digital creatures in real locations – to create a virtual model of the US Bank Stadium (66,555-cap.) in Minneapolis ahead of next month’s Super Bowl LII.

Using the feature, dubbed ‘immersive view’, eventgoers can visualise both the stadium and the surrounding area by pointing their iPhone/iPad camera at an open surface, where a 3D rendering of the venue will appear.

“StubHub’s immersive view experience demonstrates a practical use case for AR within ticketing and live events”

“StubHub’s immersive view experience not only demonstrates a practical use case for AR within ticketing and live events, but also serves as an important milestone for the industry,” comments Swann. “When it comes to our users, we’re passionate about providing solutions in ticket buying and selling that offer a clear value.

“As the first ticketing player to implement this technology, we hope to further enhance the purchasing experience ahead of the biggest day in [American] football.”

 


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Pokémon Go developer hit with suit over “flop” fest

Niantic, the developer of popular mobile game Pokémon Go, has been slapped with a class-action lawsuit after its inaugural Pokémon Go Fest was beset by technical problems that left many attendees unable to play the game.

The one-day festival, which took place last Saturday in Chicago’s Grant Park (known as the venue for Lollapalooza), was organised by Niantic as fan gathering to celebrate the first anniversary of Pokémon Go’s launch, and drew sponsorship from telcos Spring and Boost Mobile.

Tickets were priced at US$20 (although, predictably, many were being sold for much more on the usual resale sites), with around 20,000 people believed to have attended.

While the festival started relatively smoothly, it soon became clear that local mobile networks were not up to the task of accommodating 20,000 people trying to connect to the game simultaneously, and the mood in the park quickly turned ugly.

Eurogamer’s Matthew Reynolds, who was at the festival, writes:

By the time proceedings officially kicked off and were being streamed on Twitch to fans around the world, I couldn’t even get a phone signal – and nor could anyone else. I struggled to send simple SMS messages (remember those?) to keep the team back home abreast of what was happening. For an event entirely dependent on everyone having an internet connection, it was nothing short of a catastrophe.

Within the 90 minutes from early doors to the opening ceremony, the mood had turned sour. Though Niantic were quick to assure crowds they were looking into the connection issues, it wasn’t enough. CEO John Hanke was booed as he walked on stage, while brash heckles and chants of “fix our game” rang out as bubbly presenters did their best to keep the show going. It was uncomfortable viewing, and later scenes were uglier still. A water bottle was thrown at one of the on-stage presenters – the unwelcome outcome of a disappointed few’s emotions boiling over.

Niantic largely blamed mobile carriers, with Hanke saying most of the problems were due to “over-saturation of the mobile data networks of some network providers”, and refunded all attendees, as well as gifting in-game credit and a free legendary Pokémon.

“Had my client known he would spend the majority of the event waiting in lines and unable to play the game, he would have stayed in California”

This, says lawyer Thomas Zimmerman, isn’t enough, and doesn’t reimburse for those who travelled large distances – many from outside the US – to attend what he calls a “flop” of an event.

In a class-action lawsuit filed in the circuit court of Cook County, Illinois, yesterday, Zimmerman, of Chicago-based Zimmerman Law Offices, is seeking monetary damages to cover the travel expenses of lead plaintiff Jonathan Norton and a group of other festival attendees.

Zimmerman says connectivity problems were amplified by hours-long queues to get into the park.

“Attendees waited in line for hours to enter the fest, missing out on scheduled programming and exclusive in-game content available only to those with paid, activated wristbands at the fest,” reads the complaint. “The fest was plagued with internet connectivity issues related to overburdened cellular towers, in addition to Niantic’s own malfunctioning game server and software, rendering attendees unable to play the game.”

Zimmerman comments: “Festgoers were unable to complete timed in-game challenges to collect special rewards, or collect previously unavailable or rare Pokémon. Had my client [Norton] known that he would spend the majority of the event waiting in lines and unable to play the Pokémon Go game, he would have stayed in California instead of paying money to fly to Chicago to attend the fest.”

 


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