Helsinki’s innovation challenge seeks new concepts for the events sector – experiments to be tested at summer events

Helsinki is Finland’s most diverse and attractive city for events. However, the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic put the events industry under severe pressure and increased demand for more diverse event experiences. The events industry and the City of Helsinki have been jointly seeking new event business concepts as part of the city’s testbed activities. The aim is for new technology to continue to offer new and exciting ways of delivering events.

The City of Helsinki as a testbed means that the city helps companies and other partners from different sectors to test and develop new solutions in a real urban environment. In autumn 2021, the City of Helsinki, Fullsteam Agency and Helsinki XR Center were looking for new innovations in the events industry, having been challenged to find concepts that can help to renew the event experience and sense of community among spectators.

In the end, solutions from three companies were selected for testing. They make use of a wide range of new technologies, such as virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) and camera technology. New innovations help to enliven and enrich different public events. In the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, it is particularly important for the events sector to innovate, develop and support its operators.

“I’m very pleased that we were able to be involved for the first time in an event-related innovation challenge as part of our testbed activities. We are happy to continue to be involved in co-developing solutions for the event sector and other creative industries,” says Kimmo Heinonen, acting head of the Innovations and New Experiments Unit.

New opportunities for the events sector technologies

During the development period, the companies selected for the Innovation Challenge worked closely with Fullsteam Agency, Helsinki XR Center and city experts. Solutions were developed based on feedback and comments. Next summer, the innovations developed in the challenge will be part of the events in real test environments.

“Technology and digitalisation are an inherent part of today’s and tomorrow’s events. By working together, we wanted to explore different possibilities, especially to enrich the event experience. The nature of Sideways makes it an excellent context for new experiments,” says Tuomo Tähtinen , CEO of Fullsteam Agency, about the collaboration.

Experiments to get access to a real event environment at summer festivals

The Sideways festival at the Nordenskjöldinkatu ice rink in June will be the setting for two experiments. These will be followed by a third later in August.

Frame Rate developed an immersive sound and light work called MUTATIONS, in which participants create short musical works as they move through a physical space. In the work, motion sensors create the final result using pre-recorded sound and music samples. When leaving the installation, participants can scan a QR code to share the piece of music they created in the space on social media.

Stereoscape developed augmented reality concepts that improve visibility for event sales, marketing and customer engagement. The app allows corporate brands to offer fun and playful content in a modern and interactive way. For example, visitors to Sideways can produce augmented reality images and videos and share them on social media.

Teatime Research has developed a new way to produce 3D content, including three-dimensional video of music performances. The technology solution itself consists of imaging equipment and software designed for post-production. In the experiment, 3D content can be played back normally on a variety of terminals, including VR glasses, mobile devices and hologram displays. The results of the experiment will be used to further develop an easy-to-use and affordable volumetric capture solution.

The experiments at the events will help companies gather fresh user feedback for the next stage of development and support the commercialisation of solutions. The city and the events industry will also be able to use the experience and lessons learned from the experiments to enliven future events with new content and technologies. The City of Helsinki’s aim is to ensure that both the city and the experimenting parties benefit from the experiments, as they offer innovative solutions to real urban challenges.

Photo: MUTATIONS, Frame Rate

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