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November 25th, 2021 | by Mathieu Gayet

"We aim to represent the state of the art of the XR industry" - Alain Gallez, Alexandra Gérard (Stereopsia EUROPE)

Stereopsia returns in 2021 twice as much as before the pandemic: if the traditional edition Stereopsia EUROPE takes place as usual in December (8-10), the Belgian team of the event has just concluded its first Stereopsia LATAM in Chile. A way to mark the dynamism of an XR industry affected by the crisis, but back on track. We met with Alain Gallez, Managing Director, and Alexandra Gérard, COO.

Cover: KUBO WALKS THE CITY

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We're seeing a big return of physical (or hybrid) events, both pro and consumer, around the XR & Metaverse. What is the state of mind a few days before the IRL reopening in Europe? (show organization, health...)

Alain Gallez - We are living in a rather unreal period insofar as we wish to return to the old days while having to take into account the unforeseen that can arise at any time. We all want to re-establish real human contact and rediscover the warmth of direct exchanges, but we also have to pass on messages on subjects and technologies that are constantly evolving. So it's quite schizophrenic in fact. Technology allows us to be hybrid, but I think it's not a perfect solution. We are at the event and we share it with others who are not. Personally, I prefer pure solutions: all IRL, or all remote. Stereopsia made the first choice, unless the authorities forbid it at the last moment. In that case, we will switch to 100% remote, which some people call metaverse.

Alexandra Gérard : Over the last 18 months, we’ve seen experimentation and innovation across the events industry and, as social distancing rules relax, a cautious return to in-person gatherings. Yet, people are social beings; they attend events for the experience and to connect with others. Replicating the excitement and spontaneity of physical events in the virtual world or in a hybrid scenario won’t ever feel the same. In an online event, keeping participants engaged all day is a challenge.

On the program side you have established 4 main pillars, what should we expect from each one?

Alain Gallez - Our goal is to give participants a roadmap of the event in order to best meet their needs. Each track aims to be the "state of the art" of this topic. To bring together the best experts on a subject or concern. Today, immersive technologies insinuate themself in many fields, so it is essential to segment and meet the expectations of a wider audience - but also more heterogeneous.

Alexandra Gérard - The track cover 4 verticals that we have chosen this year. They are: Science, Tech&Industry, Culture&Heritage, and New Narratives. In the past, and probably again next year, we’ve had and we’ll have a Healthcare track.

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This year you have new awards 100% Stereopsia: the Crystal Owls. Why that?

Alain Gallez - The pandemic has changed practices that seemed to be well established. It has led organizations to change their strategies. This was the case for our American partner of a decade who decided to take a break from presenting its Lumiere Awards, and not only in Europe. From our point of view, it was necessary to continue to honor those who, in these difficult times, continue to generate dreams and wonder. So we decided to create a new award that goes back to our roots, those of stereoscopy and the Crystal that refers to our very first awards in 2009, as we are one of the oldest events related to immersive on the continent.

Alexandra Gérard - To renew the magic of its tradition, Stereopsia is launching its new award, the Crystal Owl®, in 2021. Shaped like an owl and created by the Cristallerie du Val Saint Lambert in Liège (Belgium), this trophy symbolizes with mystery and elegance the origins of stereoscopy, the scientific discovery that founded the immersive technologies of today and tomorrow. These Awards will be handed out in Brussels during Stereopsia EUROPE on Friday, 10 December during a glamourous Gala Dinner. The best immersive virtual and augmented reality experiences produced in Europe will be recognized in 8 categories:

  • Best AR Experience
  • Best Live Entertainment
  • Best XR Creative Concept
  • Best Heritage XP
  • Best 360 video
  • Best XR Documentary
  • Best Educative XP
  • Best Narrative Experience
  • Best VR Experience
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The Booster and a part of the show will continue to host projects in development, and the support to creators-producers. Is this the main DNA of Stereopsia? Will there be anything new this year (2 chapters, EUCL...)?

Alain Gallez - The Boosters are becoming an important part of Stereopsia because there is a logic to help those who will compete in the Awards tomorrow. We are inaugurating a Culture & Heritage Booster this year because this is a sector where XR has a great future, and it is one of our tracks this year. Stereopsia is a forum, not just a trade show, or just a conference. A forum is a place where you can exchange, discuss, or learn from each other, whatever your level of expertise. The Booster is therefore a place where you can improve yourself thanks to the contact of others. And this is Stereopsia's DNA. We also want to create bridges, this year with EUCL for the Booster New Narratives (i.e. The Booster) and with XR4Heritage for the Booster-Heritage. These bridges are as much richness and questioning of our practices that must lead to a solid program.

Alexandra Gérard - During the pandemic, I have had the chance to work closely (however remotely) with Astrid Kahmke on our Break Down These Walls festival. We immediately bonded. And so when we started talking about her booster lab and ours, we quickly came to the conclusion that it totally made sense for us to organize it together as we had very similar ambitions for the project holders.

You have just opened your show in Chile. What is your ambition for 2022 internationally? Does Stereopsia intend to develop even more in certain regions?

Alain Gallez - Stereopsia LATAM has been a real adventure because we have, since the idea in 2018, gone through complicated times, not only in health but also societal in Chile. So we are happy to have succeeded.

Alexandra Gérard - And we are very happy, because 750 people connected on the 2 platforms during the 5 days of the forum, and more than 1200 people participated in the Santiago Virtual Week. A place to discover AR and VR experiences for the local public.

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Alain Gallez - Of course, we continue to look at this region of the world, which will be a major development potential for immersive technologies in the coming decade. Each continent guides its own opportunities, but also its own rules that we have to integrate before getting a foothold. So yes, we have ideas, but let's give ourselves time to build relationships and understand the rules before rushing in.

Alexandra Gérard - We're thrilled to have connected with the XR Latam community. Some representatives have even chosen to join us in December. You can find them at their booth and in The Booster. For the future over there, we have ideas and desires. We will wait to see how the political and sanitary situation evolves there, and we will come back to you as soon as we have dates.

https://europe.stereopsia.com/

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