Hybrid Conference Experiences in the ARENA

Remote attendees navigate (in VR) a 3D model of the venue and can interact with in-person attendees wearing AR headsets and tablets. Awarded Best "Hybrid Conference of the Future" at the 2021 IEEE International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality (ISMAR'21 Awards).

Watch the Video

We present an alternative hybrid conference experience where remote attendees can interact (in VR) with attendees wearing AR headsets and tablets. By using a 3D model of the venue (obtained using an off-the-shelf laser scanner) and registering digital objects with the real world, remote attendees have a similar sense of the space as those physically present.

This experience is made possible by ARENA.

Watch a longer, in-depth video of the concept and underlying technology.


We are using the Augmented Reality Edge Network Architecture (ARENA) to support this hybrid conference experience.

ARENA is a platform we developed (see ISMAR'21 Session P9), to simplify the creation of collaborative mixed reality using standard Web Browsers. It includes features such as location-based content discovery, defines networked entities to manipulate content, user and device io with integrated access control, can run sandboxed user applications, and supports experiences across desktop, mobile platforms and AR/VR headsets.

See the ARENA documentation website.

See details about our "conference venue".


The Venue: Our Lab

We scanned our lab space to host the "conference venue." The figure shows the scanned model.

The venue

These are some side-to-side photos of the actual space and a similar VR view.

  • Photo of the venue space
    Photo of the venue space
  • VR view of scanned space
    VR view of scanned space
  • Photo of the venue space
    Photo of the venue space
  • VR view of scanned space
    VR view of scanned space

Several in-person participants (named AR1, AR2, AR3, ...) will be using a mix of AR devices (iPads, phones, magic leap) and interact with remote participants through their devices. Say hi, or ask us a question!

We also have an AR/VR portal where remote participants can interact with in-person participants and see a glimpse into what is happening at the physical location. The portal is registered in the 3D scan, so the virtual and real-world geometry are aligned.

  • AR/VR Portal (VR View)
    AR/VR Portal (VR View)
  • AR/VR Portal Physical Setup
    AR/VR Portal Physical Setup
  • Another Perspective of the AR/VR Portal
    Another Perspective of the AR/VR Portal

Enter the Venue


For the best ARENA performance, you need a few things:

  • Browser (we have tested ARENA with recent Chrome, FireFox and Oculus Browser)
  • No ad blockers/privacy extensions (sorry, we are working on it; some are known to cause issues)
  • Headphones highly recommended. They provide directional sound and stop echo. Please stay on mute when not speaking if you don’t have headphones.
  • A fast, recent machine to handle all the processing and 3D graphics is also highly recommended

Details about the VR user interface in our "First time in the ARENA" tutorial.

To enter, follow this link (new tab):


Remote participants can use VR in a browser or a VR headset to navigate the lab space and meet both remote and in-person attendees.

Everyone is referenced in the real venue, so remote participants should have a sense of interacting with in-person participants in a shared space.

Judges: A private link will be emailed to judges.

Once Inside the Venue in ARENA

Note that everyone starts muted and with video off.

Moving inside ARENA

Use the arrow buttons or a combination of WASD + mouse to move:

Movement in ARENA

Audio and Video

On the upper right, you will see your audio/video control buttons:

Audio/Video Controls.

Got a VR Headset?

To try ARENA in VR, you can go to a WebXR enabled browser. For example, go to Oculus Browser on Quest 2 and enter the scene URL above. Be patient while the scene loads and click “Enter” on the normal AV dialog box. Unmute mic BEFORE entering VR. Click the VR button in the lower right to enter immersive mode. A forward push on the left hand rocker brings up the teleportation ring. Clicking the rocker left and right rotates.

Quest Controls.

Wiselab, Carnegie Mellon University