Helsinki Turns Into the Virtual Capital of the World
Helsinki is creating an internationally unique virtual city experience in co-operation with VR-studio Zoan. The project called “Virtual Capital of the World” kicks off today, when a dozen top VR developers will arrive in the city to finalise the Helsinki-themed virtual content.
The final result will be revealed in December at the startup and tech event Slush, where it will be shown through a VR headset with eye precision capability, manufactured by Helsinki-based Varjo.
The concept of the VR experience and the groundwork for a virtual Helsinki has been made by Helsinki-based VR studio Zoan, which also conducts this week’s developer sprint. Many game houses, such as Ubisoft and Supermassive Games, are represented in the international team. The task of the team is to fine-tune the virtual experience and make it as realistic as possible.
According to the plan, virtual Helsinki will be made available next year in different parts of the world, for example in specific public spaces and arcades as well as in VR stores for VR headsets.
“Our goal is to come up with the world’s most realistic VR experience. The soundscape and the visual quality are important factors in reaching a realistic mood, when the reference point consists of existing environments. The latter is emphasised, as Varjo’s VR headset offers an exceptionally high resolution. Only a skilled 3D artist is able to make, for example, realistic water or a wooden surface”, says Zoan CEO and founder Miikka Rosendahl about the reasons for the visit of the international top developers.
After the Helsinki visit, the team continues its journey to Savonlinna, to brainstorm new purposes of use for the Retretti caverns by means of virtual technologies.
Urban Helsinki, sea and design the themes of the virtual experience
Virtual tourism has become very popular globally and Helsinki wants to be at the forefront of the development. The virtual reality themes constructed now are urban Helsinki, the sea and design. The realisation is one step in a bigger scheme.
“Helsinki wants to be the city in the world that best capitalises on digitalisation and the city is already a significant centre for startup culture and AR/VR development. At its best, digitalisation is increasingly successful services for the citizens and a better Helsinki experience for tourists. A virtual experience representing top quality is a good example of how Helsinki can be sensed in a new way“, says Helsinki Mayor Jan Vapaavuori.
A virtual journey can deepen the content of physical travel. The virtual tourist may move from present day to history, visit places that are difficult to access or from a virtual store buy a design item or a t-shirt, which is delivered home through the mail.
“By means of virtual tourism, the globe can cope with the gigantic growth of tourism. It also offers a travelling opportunity for billions of people who cannot do it due to financial or physical reasons“, says Miikka Rosendahl.
In the future, we may also see people who live physically elsewhere, but spend time in their virtual home in Helsinki. When the virtual reality becomes social, it will also be possible to meet local friends in virtual spaces.
City of Helsinki
Nita Pilkama, Senior Advisor, City Executive Office, Economic Development
tel. +358 40 841 1166
Miikka Rosendahl, founder & CEO
tel. +358 40 963 4977
Laura Ala, CMO
tel. +358 40 351 6808