It was about the same time last year, we called on #Eventprofs to break YoTribe (now Wonder.Me). Back then, most of the “virtual event platform” was literally Zoom wrapper or web-conferencing tool that has a fancy name. It was refreshing when we saw YoTribe, as it tried to create a different experience, a platform that allows people to mingle in groups and come & go as in real life. Over a hundred of us showed up, and yes, we did break the platform.
And just like that, proximity-chat style virtual platforms soon took the market by storm. People are excited about the concept, which provides a more natural way for attendees to interact with each other. By now, there are at least 5 to 6 companies we know are working in this market segment, all trying to add their unique twist to the virtual real-life experience.
On Thursday, June 24, we had a chance to try another one, SpatialChat.
On their website, they pride themselves as the virtual venue for all types of events. Their brand tagline, “video chat conversations that recreate real-life social interactions”, is simple, yet clearly identifies what they want to achieve.
The concept is similar. Participants walk towards each other, and you can start chatting. When you move your avatar away, the sound decreases and eventually ends. You can use one of the beautiful backgrounds they have created, or upload your own to create your unique venue.
What makes SpatialChat stand out, is how easy and intuitive the platform is. We had a brief instruction video at the beginning but that’s about it. People were left to wander around themselves, and during the event, there were no major technical error feedbacks. This is quite impressive as we all know people get lost and confused easily on virtual platforms.
SpatialChat also has more functionalities available that accommodate different event needs, and allow event organizers to be creative. In the session room, the audience will not be able to video chat while the organizer can do a broadcast. In the poster room, the organizer can upload multiple document/video content, and allow group meetings. In the audio room, the camera is turned off and you can only communicate with each other via audio-only. The diverse room choices and functionalities give the event organizers enough flexibility to adjust the space to their needs.
The challenge is the capacity. Depending on the plan you have, you can create up to 250 rooms. You are able to have 1,000 people in a session room, and 3,000 participants in an audio-only room. However, the maximin of 50 people in a breakout room makes it not a reasonable option for a medium-to-large sized event, like conferences. It will be a perfect platform for small group gatherings, office parties. Another common challenge for all proximity chat platforms is that it usually increases the user’s internet activities and requires more bandwidth, specifically when you have multiple live streams and different functionalities. SpatialChat is no different.
We also want to give Attis from SpatialChat credit for being an amazing moderator. Although we didn’t have (aka allow) SpatialChat to give us a proper demo, he was guiding people to different rooms to test out its unique feature. His energetic way of motivating people to test and try out everything was really entertaining and everyone enjoyed it, which reflects in the overall very positive feedback.
It shows that having a good moderator/host at this type of platform can truly enhance the user experience.
Summarizing the event, we were impressed. Although it has obvious limitations, the general layout and UX is pretty spot on. The product is constantly updated with new features and changes, which makes us excited to see how far SpatialChat can go in the future.