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Le, Duc Anh; Maclntyre, Blair; Outlaw, Jessica (2020): Enhancing the Experience of Virtual Conferences in Social Virtual Environments. In: 2020 Ieee Conference on Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces Workshops (Vrw 2020): pp. 485-494
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Scientific conferences are the place where experts and academics come together to share innovative ideas and research. However, traditional conferences have two major issues: accessibility and sustainability. The sustainability aspect alone, driven by increased attention to the environmental impact of air travel, is increasing interest in online and virtual conferencing. In this research, we use the Mozilla Hubs social virtual environment (SVE) platform to investigate the potential of SVEs to create a social environment for remote participants, centered around co-watching live streaming video of conference talks. A user study was conducted at the UIST 2019 conference with a focus on understanding social interactions, user experience, design aspects, and motivation of attendance. We also conducted a small virtual poster session in Hubs. The results show that SVEs offered a reasonable experience for co-watching the conference talks remotely. Additionally, the virtual poster session improved the social connectivity between remote attendees, and the overall experience was rated as very satisfying. In this paper, we offer design suggestions and recommendations for more future studies.