Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited
Making an exhibition
Keywords Technology, Exhibitions, World Wide Web
Interactive 3D specialist, Superscape, is setting up - under a contract with Excpocentric.com worth £1 million to Superscape - a series of exhibitions on the Web.
Superscape comes to this venture from a strong base in the provision of tools and services based on the company's Interactive 3D software technology. These are used in the design and development of innovative stand-alone and Internet-based applications which necessitate the use of, or are enriched by, 3D visualisation and other complementary rich media technologies. Involved in Interactive 3D since 1986, Superscape's solutions have been delivered to companies in more than 30 countries worldwide and are used for a wide range of visualisation applications, including e-commerce, training, data and product visualisation, space planning and entertainment. Clients include Intel, British Airways, LEGO Media and IBM.
The new virtual exhibitions, the first of which went live in June, will run in tandem with "real" (terrestrial) exhibitions, giving exhibitors the opportunity to reach global markets 24 hours a day, for the duration of the exhibition.
Kevin Roberts, CEO Superscape, says that: "The Expocentric.com contract is a significant opportunity for Superscape. It brings together a number of exciting technologies, such as Interactive 3D, multi-user chat facilities, e-commerce and automatic visitor tracking to deliver a unique concept to the global exhibition market. A major factor in the success of Superscape will be the company's ability to work in partnership with other key industry players. In this instance, we are working particularly closely with Oracle and I am confident that this relationship will be developed and strengthened over the forthcoming months."
Virtual exhibitions offer a number of benefits including access to a worldwide audience at any time of day or night, electronic monitoring of visitors to provide customer relationship management data and multi-currency e-commerce options in association with WorldPay.
The Expocentric.com strategy is to contact major exhibition organisers to discuss the virtual exhibition concept. Organisers will book virtual halls with Expocentric.com, and then sell virtual space to exhibitors. As is the case with traditional exhibitions, exhibitors will choose either an "off-the-shelf, ready-made stand" or will commission an individual design from a licensed virtual stand contractor, who will use Superscape's VRT authoring tool to build the solution.
Those exhibitors choosing a pre-designed stand will be given access to Expocentric.com's Stand WizardTM, which has been developed by Superscape. This is an online, easy to use tool that allows exhibitors to personalise their stands by adding colour, graphics, hyperlinks, branding, 3D products and product data, as well as links to the e-commerce system (developed by Oracle) to their stand.
Special offers, video streaming, promotions, on-line celebrity chats and webcam links to the "real world" shows can be used to help market the virtual exhibition, which will run 24 hours a day over the course of the terrestrial event and can be open for a period of previewing and postviewing either side of the event.
The visitor experience
To make the process readily understandable and easily-accessible, the process of moving through a virtual exhibition has been made as close as possible to that of the "real" exhibition. Thus, visitors to one of the virtual exhibitions will enter the reception area (where they can ask questions of the General Helper avatar - a virtual receptionist/representative) and then be able to explore the show by just clicking with the mouse. Stand Worker avatars will respond to visitors' questions by recognising keywords in the questions and responding with pre-programmed answers. Just like their real-life counterparts, they will help visitors buy and evaluate products, take part in promotions and book face-to-face appointments.
Superscape has headquarters in Santa Clara, California (USA) and Hook, Hampshire (UK). For more information, visit the Web site at http://www.superscape.com.