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The Accessibility of XR Events: Voice Commands for All

Inclusivity and accessibility have become increasingly important in the ever-evolving landscape of Extended Reality (XR) events. As these fully virtual and augmented worlds evolve further on, it’s crucial that no one is left behind. Voice-driven interactions are emerging as a powerful tool in making XR events more inclusive and user-friendly, ensuring that individuals of all abilities can fully participate in the immersive experiences offered. In the immersive world of XR events, accessibility plays a crucial role and how voice command interaction will revolutionise the experience, making sure that as many people as possible can partake in the magic of virtual and augmented gatherings.

The XR Event Revolution

XR events encompass a wide range of immersive experiences, from virtual conferences and trade shows to virtual art galleries and interactive social gatherings. These events have the potential to connect people from all corners of the world, transcending physical limitations and providing unique, enriching experiences. But, without proper consideration for accessibility, many individuals may find themselves excluded.

The Significance of Accessibility

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Accessibility isn’t merely a nice-to-have feature; it’s a fundamental necessity to ensure everyone has equal access to information and knowledge. In the digital age, more and more of this information is shared in online and virtual events. XR events offer the potential to bridge geographical and physical gaps, but to realise this potential, we must ensure that they are accessible to all. This means that all individuals can fully engage and enjoy the experience unimpaired by technical obstacles such as difficult controls, complex interfaces and language barriers. 

The Power of Voice Commands

Voice-driven interactions in XR events are a game-changer for accessibility. Here’s why:

1. Inclusivity: Voice commands allow individuals with limited mobility to navigate and interact with the XR environment easily. 

2. Enhanced Engagement: Voice interactions can make XR events more engaging for all users by presenting a more natural way of interacting in an environment, offering a new level of immersion and interactivity.

3. Language Diversity: XR events often attract participants from diverse linguistic backgrounds. Voice commands can accommodate a wide range of languages, ensuring everyone can participate comfortably.

4. Reducing Cognitive Load: Voice commands allow individuals with limited technical knowledge or XR experience to navigate and interact with the XR environment easily. Users who may have difficulty with complex navigation interfaces, voice commands simplify the interaction process, reducing cognitive load.

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Conclusion

In the fast-evolving world of XR events, accessibility must be a top priority. Voice-driven interactions are a powerful tool for making these events more inclusive and user-friendly. By implementing voice commands and adhering to best practices, XR event organiSers can ensure that everyone, regardless of their abilities or backgrounds, can fully participate in the immersive experiences that XR events have to offer. It’s not just about embracing technology; it’s about embracing everyone. The future of XR events must be accessible to all!

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Regina Van Tongeren

Hi, I'm Regina, Head of Marketing at VRDays Foundation. I help organise Immersive Tech Week in Rotterdam, a festival that brings together diverse voices to celebrate and explore immersive technologies' potential for a better world. I've always loved how films and games create new worlds and realities through stories, and I am fascinated by how immersive technologies are changing storytelling.

With a background in the games industry and teaching marketing, I believe immersive tech will revolutionise brand experiences, and I am curious to see the possibilities they offer for events. As a marketeer at Immersive Tech Week, I am passionate about bringing as many people as possible from all backgrounds and walks of life to Rotterdam so they can discover, experience and think about these new technologies.

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VOXReality Open Call Launches to Revolutionise XR Technology 

XR Innovators the day is officially here! 

We are thrilled to announce the launch of the VOXReality Open Call, an exhilarating opportunity for visionaries and pioneers like you to dive into the world of Extended Reality (XR) and shape its future like never before! 

At VOXReality, we’re passionate about pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in XR technology. That’s why we’re inviting Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to join us on this exciting journey. Together, we’ll harness the power of advanced AI models and developer tools to create immersive, interactive, and mind-bending XR experiences that will leave audiences in awe. 

But that’s not all – we’re offering equity-free funding of 200K EUR to selected projects, providing the support and resources you need to turn your XR dreams into reality. Imagine the possibilities: from reimagining how we interact with virtual environments to revolutionising training, the potential for innovation is limitless. 

So, what are you waiting for? Dust off your imagination, fire up your creativity, and get ready to embark on the XR adventure of a lifetime. Submit your proposal and join us in reshaping the future of XR technology.  

To learn more about the VOXReality Open Call and how to apply click here. And don’t forget to download the official press release to share the excitement with your network. 

Let’s make magic happen in the world of XR together! 

The VOXReality Team 🚀 

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VOXReality insights on the European AI Act

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a fast-evolving technology, which can be adopted in an array of fields, such as healthcare, manufacturing, transport and energy, bringing forward multiple economic and societal benefits across Europe. However, while the EU has recognised the centrality of AI in the digital transformation of society, it has also highlighted that “the same elements and techniques that power socio-economic benefits of AI can also bring about new risks or negative consequences for individuals or the society”.

In light of these considerations, the EU has underlined the need for strong regulation to safeguard AI providers and deployers by providing them with straightforward requirements and obligations, without unduly hindering technological innovation and competitiveness in this sector.  

In December 2023, the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament reached a provisional agreement on the proposal for the regulation on harmonised rules on Artificial Intelligence, the so-called Artificial Intelligence Act, which was firstly presented by the European Commission in April 2021. The AI Act is the first legislative proposal of its kind in the world and is, consequently, destined to set a global standard for AI regulation.  

Carme Artigas, Spanish Secretary of state for digitalisation and artificial intelligence, has defined this agreement “a historical achievement and a huge milestone […]”, which joins a wider package of policy measures to promote the development and the circulation of safe and trustworthy AI in conformity with EU existing law on fundamental rights. The regulation also aims at encouraging investment and innovation in AI.  

Application and Implementation

The AI Act will be implemented in the twenty-seven Member States of the European Union. However, there are exceptions to its application, as the regulation clarifies that it will not interfere, in any case, with the Member States’ exclusive competence in national security. Systems used exclusively for military and defence purposes will therefore not be subjected to the new AI legislation. At the same time, the regulation will not apply to AI systems used for the sole purpose of research and innovation, or to people using AI for non-professional reasons.  

Prohibitions and rules for high-risk systems

Among the main objectives of the AI Act, the need to ensure that AI systems are safe and do not cause serious fundamental rights violations was at the heart of the negotiations. To this end, the regulation introduces a classification system that estimates the level of risk an AI technology potentially poses to the health and safety of an individual

Consequently, AI systems presenting only limited risk will be subject to very light transparency obligations, while a wide range of high-risk AI systems will be authorised, but subject to a set of requirements and obligations before they gain access to the EU market. However, certain high-risk AI applications will be banned from the EU altogether because they are deemed threatening to citizens’ rights. 

“The provisional agreement bans, for example, cognitive behavioural manipulation, the untargeted scraping of facial images from the internet or CCTV footage, emotion recognition in the workplace and educational institutions, social scoring, biometric categorisation to infer sensitive data, such as sexual orientation or religious beliefs, and some cases of predictive policing for individuals” 

The Commission’s proposal was revised to include specificities for law enforcement authorities that deploy high-risk AI systems and tools to carry out sensitive operations and activities. However, an effective mechanism has been introduced to ensure the ever-present protection of fundamental rights against potential misuses of these high-risk systems. 

Moreover, when it comes to the use of real-time remote biometric identification systems in publicly accessible spaces, the provisional agreement defines the objectives “where such use is strictly necessary for law enforcement purposes and for which law enforcement authorities should therefore be exceptionally allowed to use such systems” 

Rules on general-purpose AI models

The proposed legislation takes into account the so-called general purpose AI, that is general-purpose AI (GPAI) systems that can be used for varying purposes. Foundation models are capable of efficiently completing a wide range of performative tasks, such as “generating video, text, images, conversing in lateral language, computing, or generating computer code”. The provisional agreement states that foundation models must comply with specific transparency obligations before they are introduced on the market. For high-impact foundation models, a stricter regime was outlined since these models are more complex and advanced, deploying larger amounts of data and, therefore, increasing the probability of risks.  

System of governance and penalties

In addition, the AI Act provides for the creation of a common European AI governance system, through the establishment of an AI Office within the Commission as part of the administrative structure of the Directorate-General for Communication Networks, Content and Technology. The European AI Office will be the centre of AI expertise across the EU, by promoting the development and use of trustworthy AI. Alongside the AI Office, an AI Board will also be set up as a coordination platform and an advisory body to the Commission. The main purpose of the Board will be to contribute to the implementation of the AI Act in the Member States 

In addition, the AI Act includes non-compliance penalties with fines ranging from 7.5 million to 35 million euros, which vary depending on the type of infringement and the firm’s size 

Next steps

On Wednesday 13th March 2024, the European Parliament approved the AI Act with 523 votes in favour, 46 against and 49 abstentions. The regulation is still subject to a final lawyer-linguist check but is expected to be adopted before the end of the legislature, in May. The law also needs to be formally endorsed by the Council 

The AI Act has generated some criticism since it introduces stricter rules and regulations that might hamper European competitiveness in the sector and, consequently,  lead other countries, like China and the USA, to dominate the industry as these countries have not yet issued a comprehensive regulation on AI.

The challenge for EU legislators has been to deliver a balanced legislation whose aim is to regulate AI but without curbing innovation potential. Experts in the field have raised concerns and doubts relating to certain aspects of the new legislation. The EU will consider the constructive suggestions provided and improve the legislation accordingly 

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Sabrina Bianchi

Sabrina Bianchi is a graduate student in International Relations at the University of Bologna. She is currently working in the R&D Department of Maggioli Group, specialising in dissemination, communication and exploitation of European projects in the fields of Immersive Technologies, Sustainable Energy and Artificial Intelligence.

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Gender balance in the XR field: VOXReality’s commitment to women inclusion

Gender equity in Research and Innovation stands as a cornerstone of the European Commission’s  broader commitment to fostering equality across all European Union policies. This dedication to gender equality is particularly pertinent in the context of emerging technologies like Extended Reality (XR). 

As XR continues to reshape how we interact with the digital world, the European Commission’s focus on gender equity ensures that the transformative potential of XR is harnessed through diverse perspectives and inclusive practices. By promoting equal opportunities for women in research, development, and leadership roles within the XR field, the Commission aims to enrich the industry with varied insights, ultimately leading to the creation of XR applications that are more accessible, user-friendly, and reflective of the diverse needs and experiences of all individuals, irrespective of gender. 

In embracing gender equity, the European Commission not only addresses a crucial aspect of social justice but also enhances the innovation and societal impact of XR within the European Union.

The XR field, encompassing virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR), is rapidly evolving, promising ground-breaking innovations and transformative experiences. However, like many tech industries, gender imbalance persists within XR, with women underrepresented in key roles. 

In this article, we shed light on the importance of gender diversity in the XR industry and highlight the exemplary efforts of VOXReality in promoting women’s inclusion.

The XR gender gap: a closer look

The XR industry has witnessed remarkable growth in recent years, yet women remain a minority in the sector. From development and design to leadership positions, the gender gap persists, limiting the diversity of perspectives and ideas. This lack of representation not only hinders innovation but also perpetuates a cycle where women are discouraged from entering or advancing in the field.

Achieving gender balance in the XR field is crucial. First, diverse teams bring a variety of perspectives, leading to more creative and innovative solutions. In a technology landscape that aims to enhance human experiences, diverse voices ensure that XR applications are inclusive and considerate of the needs and preferences of all users.

Furthermore, gender diversity fosters a more inclusive and supportive work environment, encouraging women to pursue careers in XR without fear of isolation or bias. This inclusivity is essential for attracting and retaining talent, as well as for creating a positive and collaborative industry culture.

VOXReality's commitment to women inclusion

VOXReality, an Horizon Europe funded project in the XR domain, stands out for its unwavering commitment to promoting gender balance with a particular focus on women in leadership roles, actively championing the involvement of women in pivotal positions, recognising their invaluable contributions to the XR field. The project consortium recognises the importance of diverse perspectives in shaping the future of XR and actively works towards breaking down barriers for women in the field.

Moreover, VOXReality has taken significant strides in prioritising diversity in recruitment and leadership positions. Women are not merely present but are actively driving decision-making processes, shaping the trajectory of the project from its inception to implementation. The intentional inclusion of women in key roles sends a powerful message about the project’s commitment to breaking down gender barriers within the XR industry.

The impact of VOXReality's efforts

The impact of VOXReality’s efforts is transformative. The project has witnessed a notable increase in the number of women occupying crucial roles in XR-related activities and events. 

By showcasing the leadership and expertise of women within the XR community, VOXReality is dismantling stereotypes and highlighting the immense talent that women bring to the forefront of XR innovation.

The success stories of women who have assumed pivotal roles within the project stand as powerful testaments to the opportunities and support provided by VOXReality. These stories not only inspire the current generation of women in XR but also serve as beacons of encouragement for future female enthusiasts, illustrating that leadership roles are not only attainable but are actively encouraged within the project.

Meet the researchers from the VOXReality Team

Ana Luísa Alves is a Project Manager at F6S, with 8 years of experience, with 5 years of experience in international project management in various EC including framework contracts. 

Carina Pamminger is Head of Research at Holo-Light. Carina brings over ten years of research experience across several disciplines, ranging from the games and transportation industry to augmented and virtual reality sectors. Her main interest areas are in investigating novel ways of leveraging innovative XR technologies to further enable and enhance the Industrial Metaverse.  

Irene Viola is ​ tenure track researcher in CWI, in the Distributed and Interactive Systems laboratory. Her focus is on compression and Quality of Experience (QoE) for immersive media.

Jiahuan Pei obtained her PhD at University of Amsterdam and joined DIS group at the CWI (NWO-I) as a researcher. 

She focuses on generative dialogue systems in extended reality (XR) specifically for the VOXReality project. 

Moonisa Ahsan is scientific researcher and post-doctoral fellow in the DIS (Distributed & Interactive Systems) Group at CWI (NWO-I), the Dutch national research institute in the Netherlands.

In her current role within the VOXReality , she contributes her expertise to understanding next-generation applications in Extended Reality (XR). Her primary focus is on unraveling user needs and translating that knowledge into innovative solutions that significantly enhance the user experience across diverse scenarios.

Natalia Cardona is a corporate communications specialist, Master in Journalism and Digital Content Innovation by the Autonomous University of Barcelona. Currently working in dissemination, communication, and marketing of technology, innovation, and science for projects funded by the European Commission at F6S.

Olga Chatzifoti expertise lies in digital and digitised spatiality with a focus on extended reality (XR) environments currently working at Gruppo Maggioli

Her academic background includes an MSc in the interdisciplinary program “Geoinformatics” in NTUA, Greece, and an MSc in the interdisciplinary program “Serious Games & Virtual Reality” in the Glasgow School of Art, Scotland. She has since worked as a researcher for the Glasgow School of Art and Heriot-Watt university and collaborated on projects with the Cyprus Institute and Stanford University. 

She is currently a PhD candidate in the Department of Informatics & Telecommunications of the University of Athens with a focus on Human-Computer Interaction in XR environments.

Regina Van Tongeren is marketing and brand manager in the entertainment industry at Immersive Tech Week by VRDays Foundation. She’s had the privilege to construct some amazing stories for consumers and work with wonderful brands loved by many people. Since September 2015 she is also working as a part-time lecturer marketing and branding and enjoys giving students the tools and knowledge they need to become successful professionals and create some amazing stories of their own.

Stavroula Bourou received her Master of Engineering from National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) in 2015. Additionally, she holds a MSc Degree on Geoinformation Science with specialization in Computer Vision from Technical University Berlin in 2019.

From 2019, she is working as Machine Learning Engineer at Synelixis. She has working experience in conducting research on different aspects of AI, including among others Federated Learning and Privacy Preserving Deep Learning, GAN models, NLP solutions. Additionally, she has hands-on experience on building complete AI workflows, from data collection and model creation until deployment to production. 

Our reflection

Gender balance in the XR field is not just an ethical imperative but a strategic advantage. The commitment of EU funded projects like VOXReality to women’s inclusion is a beacon of hope for a more diverse and vibrant XR industry. VOXReality’s commitment to women’s leadership and inclusion is not just a commendable ethical stance but a strategic imperative. 

By championing diversity, fostering inclusivity, and actively supporting women in leadership roles, projects like VOXReality are steering the XR industry towards a future that authentically represents the diverse talents and experiences of its participants. As we celebrate the strides made by projects like VOXReality, we continue striving for a more equitable and inclusive future for the XR industry, where the leadership roles of women are not only acknowledged but celebrated.

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VOXReality Takes Mobile World Congress 2024 and 4YFN by Storm!

Hey tech enthusiasts! Guess who just made a splash at Mobile World Congress 2024 and 4YFN? That’s right, it’s none other than VOXReality! 🚀

Amidst the bustling corridors and vibrant booths, VOXReality brought its A-game to one of the biggest tech events of the year. But what exactly were we up to? Let us spill the beans!

First things first, networking was our middle name! We were on a mission to connect with startups and SMEs, scouting for fresh talent and innovative ideas for our open call. The energy was electric as we exchanged visions and dreams with fellow trailblazers in the tech ecosystem.

But wait, there’s more! We weren’t just mingling with the startup crowd. Oh no, we were on a quest to reach out to every ecosystem actor we could find. From investors to accelerators, we left no stone unturned in spreading the word about VOXReality and our mission to revolutionise the extended reality landscape.

And did we mention our use cases? We showcased the endless possibilities of XR technology. Of course, no tech extravaganza would be complete without meeting with partners. We caught up with old friends from Immersive Tech Week and renewed our alliances, solidifying our commitment to driving innovation forward.

So there you have it, folks! VOXReality came, saw, and conquered Mobile World Congress 2024 and 4YFN. But this is just the beginning of our journey.

Stay tuned as we continue to push the boundaries of XR technology and make waves in the tech world. Until next time, keep dreaming big and embracing the revolution! ✨🌐

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Natalia Cardona

Hey there! I'm Natalia and I'm a Corporate communications specialist, I also hold Master's degree in Journalism and Digital Content Innovation by the Autonomous University of Barcelona. I currently work in dissemination, communication, and marketing of technology, innovation, and science for projects funded by the European Commission at F6S.

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Economic Insights into the Growth of Immersive Technologies Markets

The evolution from the early days of computers to our current era marks a noticeable shift towards more straightforward and engaging interactions with technology. This transformation has been particularly propelled by the rise of augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) technologies, along with the profound impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, hastening the acceptance of digital realms and the concept of the metaverse.

As of 2021, the global immersive technology market reached a valuation of USD 21.66 billion, and projections indicate a substantial increase to approximately USD 134.18 billion by 2030. This signifies a robust compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.46% from 2022 to 2030. Deloitte Global forecasts a remarkable 50% increase in the virtual reality market, predicting a revenue of US$ 7 billion globally in 2023, up from 2022’s US$ 4.7 billion. 

These figures present a promising outlook for a continually expanding market, resilient even in the face of the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Notably, as a survey conducted in 2020 by McKinsey & Co. highlights, the global pandemic has accelerated the development and has encouraged the adoption of VR and AR technology, which facilitated the completion of activities previously only done in person. Companies have started to use these technologies more intensively because they allow daily working tasks to be performed remotely, while “offering endless possibilities for better learning, productivity and creativity outcomes in every way” .

The role of Europe

Looking at the European XR industry, it is anticipated to reach between €35 billion and €65 billion by 2025, with a gross added value ranging from €20 billion to €40 billion. This growth is expected to directly create employment for up to 860,000 people. The momentum in the VR/AR sector can be attributed to two key factors: the availability of advanced XR technologies, including more comfortable and affordable headsets, and the rising demand for enterprise XR solutions as businesses recognise their potential benefits.

The European Union has been a staunch supporter of digitalisation and XR technology development, evident through funding innovative digital research projects under the Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe programs. Additionally, the European XR ecosystem thrives with events, initiatives, and associations like EuroXR, uniting national associations, individual members, and companies interested in XR. The EU’s overarching goal is to enhance digital literacy, transforming Europe into a thriving and highly competitive hub for XR activities.

However, recent geopolitical events, particularly the war in Ukraine, have left a significant impact on the immersive technology market. Sanctions and the withdrawal of companies from the Russian market, including <Microsoft’s suspension of HoloLens sales, have disrupted the AR landscape. The effects have rippled into the European market, with Central and Eastern European countries experiencing the most substantial consequences, given their slower and more price-sensitive AR market.

Conclusion

The trajectory of immersive technology, fuelled by advancements in XR technologies and the transformative influence of the COVID-19 pandemic, showcases a robust and continually expanding global market. Projections underscore the sector’s resilience and potential for substantial growth, with the European Union playing a pivotal role in fostering digital innovation and XR development. 

Despite geopolitical challenges impacting the industry, the commitment to digital literacy and strategic support for XR activities position Europe as a competitive hub. As we navigate this dynamic landscape, it becomes evident that immersive technologies are not merely trends but integral components shaping the future of how we interact with and perceive the digital realm.

References

https://www.precedenceresearch.com/immersive-technology-market
2 Lee P., Arkenberg C., Stanton B., Cook A., Will VR go from niche to mainstream? It all depends on compelling VR content, in Deloitte’s Technology,
Media and Telecommunications Predictions, 2023, p.71
https://www.mckinsey.com/capabilities/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/how-covid-19-has-pushed-companies-over-the-technology- tipping-point-and-transformed-business-forever#/
4 Globally Cool B.V., The European market potential for VR and AR services, 2021
5 World Economic Forum, Immersive Media Technologies: The Acceleration of Augmented and Virtual Reality in the Wake of COVID-19, 2022, p. 8
6 Ecorys, XR and its potential for Europe, 2021; Vigkos A., Bevacqua D., Turturro L., Kuehl S., The Virtual and Augmented Reality Industrial Coalition,
Ecorys, 2022
https://blog-idceurope.com/how-the-russia-ukraine-war-is-impacting-the-human-augmentation-market-in-europe/

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Alberto Casanova

Alberto Casanova is an EU Project Manager in the R&D department of Maggioli Group, one of Italy's foremost companies providing software and digital services for Public Administrations. With more than five years of experience in this role, Alberto is engaged in proposal preparation and project management; he specializes in Business and Exploitation activities, with a specific focus on European Projects. He has successfully led numerous projects in diverse fields, including e-Health, Security, Industry 4.0, Cloud Technologies, and Immersive Technologies. Alberto is currently involved in the project coordination of the VOXReality project, where he takes the lead in overseeing exploitation activities.

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Redefining Connection: How VR and Artificial Intelligence can Transform BusinessNetworking

In the evolving landscape of technology, networking in professional and business events is not just about exchanging business cards or attending physical conferences. Thanks to pioneering developments in Virtual Reality (VR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), networking is undergoing a transformative shift. These technologies are not just changing the way we connect but are redefining the entire landscape of professional networking. Let’s explore how VR and AI are becoming necessary tools for modern networking, creating immersive user experiences in virtual spaces.

Photo by Remy Gieling on Unsplash

The Immersive World of VR in Networking

Imagine attending a global conference event from the comfort of your home. Virtual Reality makes this possible, by creating immersive environments where you can interact with others in a 3D space. This interaction can replicate the physical presence as well as the feel of an in-person event. 

It’s more than a video call; it’s a virtual presence. You can “shake
hands” with participants from another continent, engage in one-on-one conversations, attend virtual trade shows or a keynote speech as if you’re there, enhancing the sense of connection and engagement. VR in networking bridges the gap between physical distance and personal connection, offering an engaging and interactive experience that traditional video conferencing cannot match.

In the immersive VR environment, diverse virtual spaces can cover every aspect of professional interaction. To begin with, the Lobby can be characterised as a welcoming gateway, helping attendees navigate the event. The Trade Show Area serves as an innovative exhibition hall for businesses to showcase their products and engage in discussions with other participants about their offered solutions. 

The Conference Area replicates the experience of attending seminars and lectures, enhancing knowledge sharing. For formal meetings and collaborations, the Business Area provides the perfect setting, while the Social Area offers a relaxed setting for casual conversations. Together, these spaces create a comprehensive and immersive VR networking experience, that mimics the real-life spaces of in-person networking events.

Image by Thomas Meier from Pixabay

Breaking Language Barriers with AI Translation

The human-to-human interaction of global networking events faces a significant challenge: the language barrier. AI-driven translation services are a game-changer in this aspect, especially in virtual environments. Real-time translation tools, integrated within the VR platform, enable seamless communication between participants speaking different languages, allowing for a truly global networking experience. This not only enhances understanding but also opens doors to cross-cultural collaborations that were previously hindered by language constraints.

The Smart AI-based Assistant

The human-to-machine interaction in VR spaces can be also enhanced by the AI-based assistant, a sophisticated tool designed to aid attendees as they navigate in the virtual environment. This intelligent agent provides real-time navigation instructions, ensuring that participants can move effortlessly between different areas of the event. Moreover, it offers detailed program information, helping attendees maximise their time by suggesting sessions
that align with their interests and professional goals.
In addition, the AI assistant can provide comprehensive trade show information, from booth locations to exhibitor details, allowing users to strategically plan their visits.

Embracing the Future of Business Networking with VOXReality

The future of networking and engagement in virtual events lies in the harmonious integration and synergy of VR and AI. VOXReality project manages to enhance the virtual networking by creating immersive VR platform that mimic the real-life spaces of events.

Moreover, in this VR platform, the advanced AI-based VOXReality models have been integrated to provide real-time language translation and assistance, ensuring a smooth and inclusive experience for all participants. This intelligent system can facilitate cross-cultural engagement by overcoming language barriers and guide users through the virtual event space with ease. The result is a dynamic and accessible environment where every interaction is optimised, pushing business networking into a new era of global connectivity.

To conclude, as VR and AI technologies continue to evolve, they promise to make virtual networking more accessible, effective, and inclusive, transcending geographical and linguistic limitations. Together, in VOXReality project, we embrace these innovations and experience the future of professional networking.

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Stavroula Bourou

Hi! My name is Stavroula Bourou and I am a Machine Learning Engineer. I received my Master of Engineering from National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) in 2015. Additionally, I hold a MSc Degree on Geoinformation Science with specialisation in Computer Vision from Technical University Berlin in 2019.​ Currently, I am involved in projects funded by the European Commission at Synelixis Solutions S.A. At VOXReality, my contributions include the development of a context-aware, AI-based dialogue system as well as the VR Conference use case

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VOXReality Unleashes XR Revolution: NLP Mastery and Tech Wizardry Take Center Stage at Immersive Tech Week 2023!

Hold onto your headsets, folks!  

From November 28th until December 1st, the VOXReality rockstars unleashed a tsunami of innovation at the mind-blowing Immersive Tech Week 2023 in Rotterdam. Imagine a tech utopia where the main stakeholders of VR, AR, AI, haptics, and Web4 gather to spread the magic on the latest tech wonders. Yeah, that’s the vibe!

Our team at VOXReality weren’t just attendees. First, In a strategic session during Immersive Tech Week 2023, VOXReality participated in the F6S Innovation led presentation titled “Connecting Founders to Horizon Europe Funding Opportunities,” spotlighting the integral role played by European funds in advancing XR innovation and fostering collaborative ventures. 

These funding opportunities assume a critical role in bolstering startup endeavours, providing the requisite resources for the development of cutting-edge XR solutions. The overarching goal was to enhance learning experiences, cultivate novel opportunities, and establish immersive technology as a conduit for societal connectivity. VOXReality shared the with other XR projects: SERMASXR2LearnXR4ED and CORTEX2

But that’s not all! Picture this: a special discussion panel titled “Maximizing Efficiency in NLP Model Training and XR Environments: Real-Time Language Processing for Seamless Interactions.” A warp-speed journey into the heart of Natural Language Processing (NLP) within the universe of extended reality (XR).

In the realm where Natural Language Processing (NLP) intersects with immersive technology, a narrative unfolds. NLP, driving change in digital interactions, has reshaped our virtual landscape. However, the resource-intensive nature of NLP models raises concerns about environmental impact, energy consumption, and scalability.

Extended Reality (XR) environments are now integrated with NLP tools, influencing virtual meetings, training simulations, and immersive experiences. The demand is clear: efficiency, optimisation, and seamless fusion of language models to minimise latency and enhance the user experience.

The roundtable assembled a group of experts to explore strategies for optimising training pipelines, addressing environmental concerns, and developing sustainable approaches. The focus extended to improving efficiency, reducing latency, and maximising the user experience.

 

Speakers included (As pictured from left to right):

This assembly of experts delved into challenges and solutions, navigating the delicate balance between cutting-edge advancements and environmental considerations. The discussion explored resource consumption challenges and sustainable approaches, with a focus on efficiency, reduced latency, and an enhanced user experience. The session provided insights into the future of NLP in XR, guided by the expertise of the speakers. 

 

NLP in XR environments highlights

The VOXReality team of experts explored the intersection of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Extended Reality (XR). Nour Fendri introduced XR, detailing its applications in both consumer and industrial contexts, emphasising AR’s role in manufacturing and VR’s efficacy in training.

Stavroula delved into NLP, defining it and highlighting impactful applications such as speech recognition, language translation, conversational agents, and integration with visual processing like image captioning and Visual Question Answering (VQA). Olga underscored the importance of natural language in XR for intuitive interactions, enhancing user immersion and presence.

Afterwards, it was discussed industry pain points, including user acceptance in manufacturing, focusing on the need for better XR interaction methods. complemented by Olga, whom highlighted challenges in interpersonal communication in multiuser XR environments, especially in AR and VR conferences, stressing the necessity for real-time translation.

Stavroula and Jiahuan explored challenges in integrating NLP into XR, focusing on resource-intensive models impacting system performance and causing latency. Petros explained latency thresholds and the need for real-time processing, crucial for user experience in XR environments. Jiahuan detailed the challenges of large language models, addressing their computational intensity.

Petros and Yusuf discussed the evolution of AI models, citing their exponential growth in scale over the past five years driven by increased data availability and improved hardware. Yusuf emphasised environmental concerns, revealing the significant CO2 emissions associated with large models like GPT-3 and GPT-4.

Yusuf proposed solutions to minimise environmental impact, including renewable energy for data centres, data efficiency, and efficient model design. Petros outlined optimisation techniques like pruning, quantisation, knowledge distillation, and transfer learning.

Yusuf, Petros, and Olga provided insights into VOXReality’s project, discussing optimisation efforts and the use of pre-trained models in their XR integration. The team discussed VOXReality’s real-world use cases, including AR theatre and VR conferences, showcasing the enhanced communication and human-to-machine interaction facilitated by NLP.

In concluding remarks, the panel discussed the present availability of open-source tools, pre-trained models, and cloud services. In conclusion, the session emphasised  the importance of XR for industry innovation, promoting a natural way to interact with the digital world for increased efficiency and user adoption. The roundtable offered a comprehensive exploration of the challenges, solutions, and future prospects at the nexus of NLP and XR.

As we reflect on Immersive Tech Week 2023, we are truly grateful for the opportunity to connect with industry luminaries and pioneers. Interacting with thought leaders has provided invaluable insights into the dynamic landscape of immersive technologies. The exchange of ideas and networking opportunities at this event has opened up limitless possibilities, enhancing the overall experience for all participants.

Immersive Tech Week 2023 served as an outstanding platform for VOXReality to demonstrate our unwavering commitment to advancing XR and NLP. In the ever-evolving technological landscape, events like these play a vital role in fostering collaboration, learning, and idea exchange. Our team’s active contribution to the NLP discussion within XR environments reflects our dedication to pushing the boundaries of immersive technology.

The resounding success of Immersive Tech Week 2023 has left an indelible mark on both attendees and the VOXReality Team. This event not only showcased the current state of immersive technologies but also teased the exciting possibilities awaiting the industry. A heartfelt thank you to the entire VRDays team for orchestrating this monumental event and providing a space for innovation and collaboration.

As we bid farewell to the last event of the year, our excitement is already building for the adventures that Immersive Tech Week 2024 holds. Join us on this journey as we continue to push the boundaries of immersive technology and explore new frontiers in XR and NLP.

See you next year!

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From Fantasy to Reality: The Enchantment of GPT-2

“GPT-2 transformative”, developed by OpenAI, stands as a groundbreaking achievement in the realm of artificial intelligence and natural language processing. GPT-2, short for “Generative Pre- trained Transformer 2” excels at predicting the next word in a sequence of text, showcasing its remarkable language modelling capabilities. GPT-2 was introduced by OpenAI in a research paper titled “Language Models are Unsupervised Multitask Learners” which was published on February 14, 2019. The paper presented the architecture and capabilities of GPT-2, marking its official debut in the field of natural language processing.

https://medium.com/geekculture/auto-code-generation-using-gpt-2-4e81cb05430

What sets GPT-2 apart is its ability to generate coherent and contextually relevant text passages based on a given prompt. Trained on vast amounts of internet text, GPT-2 learns to predict and generate text by capturing intricate patterns and structures within language. This pre-training equips GPT-2 with an extensive understanding of grammar, vocabulary, and context, enabling it to generate human-like text, answer questions, complete sentences, and even engage in creative writing tasks. GPT-2’s capacity for generating high-quality, contextually appropriate text has found applications in various fields, including content creation, conversational agents, and language translation, making it a versatile tool in the domain of natural language processing.

Content creators leverage GPT-2 to automate writing tasks, generate marketing copy, or brainstorm ideas. In conversational AI, it serves as the backbone for chatbots and virtual assistants, enabling them to engage in more natural and context-aware conversations with users. Moreover, GPT-2 has proven invaluable in translation tasks, where it can convert text from one language to another while preserving the original context and meaning.

The impact of GPT-2 extends beyond its ability to generate text. Its underlying architecture, the transformer model, has inspired subsequent developments in natural language processing and machine learning. Researchers and developers continue to explore its potential, pushing the boundaries of what AI-powered language models can achieve, making GPT-2 a cornerstone in the evolution of artificial intelligence and human-computer interaction.

The combination of language models like GPT-2 with vision transformers represents a powerful approach in the realm of multimodal AI, where both textual and visual information are processed together. By integrating GPT-2 with vision transformers, complex tasks involving both text and images can be tackled, leading to advancements in areas such as image captioning, visual question answering, and more.

https://www.kaggle.com/code/manann/generating-quotes-using-gpt-2-language- model/notebook

Empowering AI: The Fusion of GPT-2 and Vision Transformers Unleashes Multimodal Brilliance

The combination of language models like GPT-2 with vision transformers represents a powerful approach in the realm of multimodal AI, where both textual and visual information are processed together. By integrating GPT-2 with vision transformers, complex tasks involving both text and images can be tackled, leading to advancements in areas such as image captioning, visual question answering, and more. Here’s how GPT-2 can be combined with vision transformers:

  1. Multimodal Inputs: Vision transformers process images into a format understandable by transformers. These processed visual embeddings can be integrated into GPT-2 as additional input alongside text. This creates a multimodal input where GPT-2 receives both textual and visual information.
  2. Text-Image Context Understanding: GPT-2 excels at understanding textual context. By incorporating visual information, it gains the ability to comprehend the context of images, allowing it to generate more informed and contextually relevant textual responses. For example, when describing an image, the model can generate detailed and coherent textual descriptions.
  3. Applications in Image Captioning: In image captioning tasks, where an AI system generates textual descriptions for images, GPT-2 can leverage the visual embeddings provided by vision transformers to create rich and descriptive captions. This ensures that the generated captions not only describe the visual
    content accurately but also exhibit a natural language flow.
  4. Visual Question Answering (VQA): In VQA tasks, where the AI system answers questions related to images, combining GPT-2 with vision transformers allows for a more nuanced understanding of both the question and the image. This enables the model to provide contextually appropriate answers, taking into
    account the visual elements present in the image.
  5. Enhanced Creativity and Understanding: By understanding both text and images, the combined model can exhibit a higher level of creativity and nuanced understanding. It can generate creative stories inspired by images or
    answer questions about images with more depth and insight.
  6. Training Paradigms: During training, the multimodal model can be trained on tasks that involve both textual and visual inputs. This joint training enhances the model’s ability to learn the intricate relationships between textual and visual data, improving its performance on multimodal tasks.

Previous versions and development - This is where it all begins

GPT-2, the second version of the Generative Pre-trained Transformer developed by OpenAI, introduced several key differences and improvements compared to its predecessor, GPT-1:

  1. Scale and Size: GPT-2 is much larger than GPT-1, both in terms of the number of parameters and the model&#39;s overall size. GPT-2 has 1.5 billion or 1.5k million parameters, making it significantly larger than GPT-1, which had 117 million parameters. This increase in scale allows GPT-2 to capture more complex patterns in the data it is trained on.
  2. Performance: Due to its increased size, GPT-2 demonstrated superior performance in various natural language processing tasks. It exhibited a better understanding of context, allowing it to generate more coherent and contextually relevant text. The larger model size contributed to improved fluency and the ability to handle a wider range of topics and prompts
    effectively.
  3. Few-Shot and Zero-Shot Learning: GPT-2 showcased the ability to perform few-shot and even zero-shot learning. Few-shot learning means the model can generalise and generate text given a few examples or prompts. Zero-shot learning means it can generate text for tasks it has never seen before, just based on a description of the task.
  4. Controllability: GPT-2 allowed for more fine-grained control over the generated text. OpenAI demonstrated this control by conditioning the model on specific instructions, styles, or topics, resulting in text that adheres to those constraints.
  5. Ethical and Safety Concerns: The release of GPT-2 raised significant ethical concerns regarding the potential misuse of the technology for generating deceptive or malicious content. Due to these concerns, OpenAI initially refrained from releasing the full model but later decided to make it publicly available.
  6. Research Focus: GPT’s release sparked discussions in the research community about responsible AI development, the potential societal impact of highly advanced language models, and the ethical considerations in AI research. This led to increased awareness and ongoing research into the ethical use of such technologies
https://www.revechat.com/blog/chatbot-quotes/

Epilogue: Embracing the Language Revolution

As we conclude this exploration of GPT-2&#39;s transformative impact on our world, it becomes evident that we stand on the precipice of a linguistic revolution. The emergence of GPT-2 not only expanded the horizons of artificial intelligence but also ushered in a new era of human- machine interaction. Its remarkable ability to generate coherent, contextually rich text has opened doors to unprecedented possibilities, from revolutionising content creation and translation services to empowering educators and journalists. 

With great power, however, comes great responsibility. As we continue to integrate advanced language models like GPT-2 into our daily lives, it is crucial to navigate the ethical waters with vigilance. Striking a balance between innovation and ethical application will be the cornerstone of our journey forward. Let us embrace this linguistic revolution with wisdom and empathy, ensuring that the transformative potential of GPT-2 and its successors is harnessed for the betterment of humanity, heralding an era where the boundaries between human creativity and artificial intelligence blur, fostering a future where the art of communication knows no bounds.

Picture of  Giorgos Papadopoulos

Giorgos Papadopoulos

Associate Researcher at Centre for Research & Technology Hellas (CERTH)

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