vCAMP

an augmented reality alternative for unconferences

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Duration

8 Weeks

Charlie Dabbs

Steve Kangisser

Prompt

an augmented reality alternative for unconferences

Methods

Interviews, Literature Reviews, Market Analysis, 

Survey: development, deployment, & analysis

Result

TBD, project is still in progress

View Process Book

Team

AT A GLANCE

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PROJECT KICKOFF

SERVICE DESIGN FOR THE FUTURE CONFERENCE EXPERIENCE

Project introduction coming soon. There are many different types of conferences, and as such, the design an format is always changing. We were prompted to select a conference type to research and envision a future state of that conference style. . . 

UNDERSTANDING THE CONTEXT

SO, WHAT'S AN UNCONFERENCE?

If you haven't heard of an unconference before, then you're in luck! While unconferences are a popularized conference model, it's not one that is widely recognized. A good portion of our research and framing first started with desk research understanding the history, context, and unconference model. 

Let's first jump into the basics. An unconference is a conference that is organized, structured, and led by the people attending.

 

The event has a predefined structure but undefined topics, and the topics are determined democratically the morning of the event. Shaped by its participants, each unconference is unique, social, and ever–changing. 

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Project introduction coming soon. There are many different types of conferences, and as such, the design an format is always changing. We were prompted to select a conference type to research and envision a future state of that conference style. . . 

ECOSYSTEM MAP

UNCONFERENCE STAKEHOLDERS IN THE ECOSYSTEM

There is not one “right” way to organize an unconference, but there are certain components that will make the event more successful. Creating an ecosystem map was our first step in visualizing the activities, people, and tools at place in making these events work. Every unconference is unique, and each individual ecosystem map looks different as the components inside it vary.

 

Three primary components are at play in all unconferences:

  1. Communication and Marketing Channels: generally email and social media (Twitter)

  2. People: organizer, session leader, scribe, nomad, volunteer, sponsor, etc.

  3. Facilitation Tools: OST tools that enable participants to control and create the content

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Unconference ecosystem map

UNTRADITIONAL FORMAT

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Open Space Technology (OST) is the governance structure of most unconferences. OST is a method for organizing and running an event where participants have been asked to focus on a particular topic. OST is the predominant guiding factor that makes unconferences as successful and productive as they are.

 

The day begins with breakfast and welcoming remarks. An empty conference agenda with time slots and locations is on display as participants arrive. During "Marketplace," participants pitch subjects they would like to discuss. After all ideas have been presented, participants vote on subjects they are most interested in and those with the most votes create the sessions. 

 

Leaders are the individuals facilitating each breakout session. If you pitch a topic, it’s your responsibility to attend that session and introduce your topic or question. However, you don’t have to know anything about the subject in which you are pitching. That’s one of the beauties of an unconference and how it promotes learning and networking. This is also where the Law of Two Feet comes into play: leave if you’re not learning or contributing and find another session where you can. 

 

After the sessions conclude, there’s another large group concluding session to summarize topics and themes discussed that day. 

BRAND AND VALUE CREATION

UNDERSTANDING BRANDING AND VALUES OF UNCONFERENCES

W used the Keeley Model of value creation to further discover the unique value proposition an unconference creates and understand why it's become such an appealing conference model. This model was our starting point to discover the backend of “how is this whole thing works,” and was a guide we used when developing how a solution would work functionally. 

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BRAND ANALYSIS

Secondly, we did a brand analysis of three Atlanta-based unconferences to identify commonalities in marketing strategies, as well as to understand what types of archetypes, colors, tone, and value propositions were employed to recruit participants. 

MARKETING & BRANDING

DERIVING INSIGHTS

Unconference branding typically includes ‘bar’ or ‘camp’ in the event title.

It is more common to find a "parent" unconference brand that promotes localization and personalization of each subsidiary unconference brand by the community. EdCamp and ProductCamp are good examples.

These "parent unconference brands" provide facilitation tools and logistically help with sponsorship, marketing, and fundraising.

Email is the primary mode of marketing. Social media is used more occasionally. 

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INTERVIEWS

WHAT'S THE EXPERIENCE LIKE? CAN IT BE IMPROVED?

“Unconferences are less about the topic and more about the people. If you have quality attendees, it will be a more powerful event.”

- Mike, unconference organizer

After understanding the components in place to create an unconference, we wanted to learn first-hand how these events are planned and marketed as well as what it's like to attend and unconference.

 

We interviewed 2 Atlanta-area unconference organizers as well as 1 first-time attendee. Our interviews were semi-structured, focused on the experience, planning, participation, and networking aspects of an unconference. All interviewees noted that the primary selling point of an unconference is the customization of the event and the authentic industry relationships you develop along the way.

We took the interview content and began analyzing it by creating journey and empathy maps for each user type.

JOURNEY MAP

UNDERSTANDING USER EXPERIENCE

We distilled data collected during the interviews into journey maps documenting the processes, steps, feelings, and insights of different users as they experience unconferences.

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EMPATHY MAP

UNDERSTANDING DIFFERENT USER GROUPS

We also created empathy maps, such as the one below for the unconference organizer. We wanted to better understand not only what the user experienced, but how they felt during that experience. 

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OBSERVATION

ATTENDING PRODUCTCAMP ATL

ProductCamp Atlanta is a collaborative, participant-organized professional unconference, focused on product management, marketing and UX. The team attended ProductCamp Atlanta to get first-hand experience of an unconference. About 150 people attended, and over 30 people pitched conference session topics. The energy and excitement in the room was palpable and surprising, given that it was a Saturday.

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QUALITATIVE RESEARCH

DERIVING INSIGHTS

One of the biggest challenges is managing the volunteers and people involved.

Unconferences can be overwhelming; their energy and fast-paced nature is both a draw and an intimidating factor.

Everyone in an unconference should be prepared to actively engage in the sessions, and possibly be prepared to present.

One of the biggest draw is the networking and learning; facilitators and organizers aren't looking to make a profit. 

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PUTTING EVERYTHING TOGETHER

DEFINING THE PROBLEM AND FUTURE OPPORTUNITIES

Methodology

The team used affinity mapping, body-storming, and rapid prototyping to ideate opportunities to improve the unconference experience. Our goal was to build upon the strengths of an unconference while also addressing its shortcomings.

 

Unconference Pain Points

  • Managing people

  • Attendance (accessibility and marketing)

  • Discussion relies upon facilitation

  • Unstructured nature is hard–to–sell

  • Session documentation

 

Unconference Strengths

  • Hyper-relevant sessions

  • Format provides an opportunity for collaboration between disciplines

  • Prioritizes conversation

  • Attendees create the conference

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Unconferences are dependent on skillful facilitators, participatory attendees, and ample networking in order to be successful. Inadequate facilitators, a limited option of topics, and low attendance rates greatly impact the quality and relative success of an unconference. 

 

How can we leverage emerging and current technology to shape future unconferences and enhance global interpersonal communication?

IDEATION

WHAT COULD AN AUGMENTED REALITY SOLUTION LOOK LIKE?

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2. "Meet" other virtual attendees

3. Display of speaker/ topics on screen with ability to vote

4. Remote participants are seated separately during intro session

5. All participants use AR tools during sessions

6. Remote and physical participants sit together during sessions

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We began refining this idea by imagining possibilities for remote conference participation in a way beyond just "calling-in" or live-streaming. If the true value of an unconference lies in participation, how can you capitalize on the experience of participation while being remote?  What opportunities exist for remote participation for stakeholders from all levels? We further ideated by creating simple journey maps and storyboards to help form and shape this future experience. We also went back to

desk-side research to get a better understanding of current and emerging technologies that could help shape this new type of conference platform. 

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AR/VR VALUE PROPOSITION & BUSINESS MODEL CANVAS

VALUE PROPOSITION PER USER GROUP

Attendees

  • Increases access to presenters and attendees, creating a broader subject diversity for participants

  • More participants translates to increased networking opportunities

  • Use of AR permits multiple conference locations as well as remote attendance

  • AR offers the option to avoid the environmental consequences of travel to a physical conference location

 

Presenters

  • AR offers different visual presentation techniques and interactions that do not exist under other conditions

  • Accessible to a wider range of skilled presenters and facilitators because geographic boundaries are no longer a limitation

  • As with attendees, presenters can avoid travel to a physical conference location

 

Organizers

  • Conference organizers can include trained facilitators and presenters. This improves the unconference content and registration revenue.

  • Organizers can more easily document sessions using tools provided in augmented reality. For example, they could introduce collaborative notes, or record the sessions through the viewpoints of volunteers.

  • Use of a platform for unconferences specifically negates previous space and budget limitations. Would need access to the technology but this could be provided through the solution. 

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Business Model Canvas

JOURNEY MAP

WHAT COULD AN AUGMENTED REALITY SOLUTION FEEL LIKE?

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Benefits

  1. Participate from anywhere

  2. Reduces carbon footprint

 

Challenges

  1. Privacy & security concerns

  2. Can’t participate without equipment

Benefits

  1. Eliminates geographic boundaries

  2. New methods for facilitation

Challenges

  1. Locomotion

  2. Psychological layering in AR

Benefits

  1. New visual tools

  2. Increases global knowledge sharing

 

Challenges

  1. Privacy & security concerns

  2. Hard to quickly adapt when exiting AR/VR

Unconference

Documentation

(post)

Networking (during & post) 

Remote Participation

EMERGING TECH

WHAT TECHNOLOGY IS NEEDED TO BRING THIS TO REALITY?

In seeking to make the VR experience just as rich as the physical experience, several companies are developing tools that make a virtual conference, such as the one we're proposing, possible. In this way, we would see a shift in conference attendance where in attending in physical reality is not the best, it's just a choice. Augmented and virtual reality permit use of a wide range of tools, including casting of notes, three dimensional boards, and virtual products. Speakers can freely move around the room as they present. All these tools are included on the vCamp platform. 

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top left: product demonstration using Spatial tools; above: use of Holoportation by Microsoft; both right: use of 3D board tools using Spatial

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

INTRODUCING VCAMP

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vCamp is the mixed reality experience of an unconference. vCamp greatly enhances the unconference experience for physical attendees, virtual attendees, presenters, and sponsors. It allows increased attendance, wider opportunities for networking and social interaction, enhanced facilitation tools, and can help reduce the environmental impact of unconferences. AR conferences require specialized hardware, software, and knowhow. vCamp supplies the rig, glasses, platform, and brings everything together on a single platform.

 

Unconference attendance is now available for all to all both physically and virtually. 

How to attend is now merely a choice.

SERVICE BLUEPRINT

WHAT COMPONENTS ARE NEEDED FOR THIS TO WORK?

To refine and identify functional details of our design, we created a service design blueprint for a mixed reality unconference experience. In completing this exercise, we included different functional design aspects of both a remote attendee, an in-person attendee, how these two systems integrate, and dove deep into the technology available and needed to bring this concept to reality. 

Below is a schematic of what details are included in a service design blueprint. View our Blueprint here

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