Because of COVID-19 almost all physical events are not possible and therefore are either cancelled or need to take place online. Online events often lack spontaneous encounters and the feeling of a social gathering. Therefore we wanted to create a solution. Our project tries to bridge the gap between digital and physical conferences. It does this by recreating the physical experience of walking a around a building and meeting new people. You are able to strike up a conversation with anyone you see on the map and are not limited to an online call. Currently, in online conferences, there is no possibility for small talk. You are always stuck in a call. It is not possible to talk to your coworker privately unless you set up a specific meeting with them. Our application features a floor plan where you can see the users move around in real time through the (virtual) building. You can move your own avatar through the building and start either a private conversation or a group conversation. There also is the possibility to join a conference room and listen to a speaker. When a user starts a conversation with another user, their avatars will move towards each other so you can see that they are in a conversation together. This way other user can see the conversation and join if they want. The admin of the conference has the ability to create a custom floor plan to upload onto the website. There he is able to give every room a specific functionality. The admin can give every room a title explaining the purpose of a room.
Dr. H. Basold is an assistant professor at Leiden University. He regularly organises conferences and because of COVID-19 he needs alternatives. Currently, online conference tools are not well organised. He mentioned that conferences are essential to meet other researchers in related fields and for networking. Especially small talk during conferences is relevant for networking. The current online tools do not allow for this to happen. This was his motivation to start looking for a solution and to contact us. We had bi-weekly meetings in Leiden where we would discuss our progress. Here we would talk about the new features implemented. He would then give us feedback on those new features. Also, we would ask him what features he would like to see implemented for the new meeting. In our opinion, the collaboration was excellent. However, sometimes we found it difficult to see whether he was satisfied with our progress.
We had meeting at least once a week and most of the times even more. We divided the tasks of the project in different subjects and assigned them to pairs. Then every two weeks when the sprint ended, we had an evaluation meeting. Here we discussed retrospectives and assigned new issues. In the weekly meetings we discussed the progress of everyone. When someone had complications with their task, other team members were always available for help. We all enjoyed working together and there were no conflicts.