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Gitex goes online in three dimensions

You’ll need a very fast Internet link, but you can now visit Gitex using your PC and a browser.

Gitex is going virtual. From October 18th, the Middle East’s largest information technology exhibition will be posted on the Internet in three dimensions.

Virtual Gitex will be a no frills reproduction of the real Gitex. Visitors will be able to move around the virtual exhibition halls and interact with stands by clicking on the objects inside them. That will bring up basic data on the item and details for more in-depth information. You’ll also be able to chat with a virtual assistant, if the exhibitor chooses to assign a person to the job.

Nidal Abou Zaki, public relations manager at Dubai World Trade Centre says that Virtual Gitex is all part and parcel of maintaining Gitex’s position as the region’s number one technology show. Profit is definitely not the motive at this stage. “If we don’t use technology to develop our exhibition we won’t stay at the leading edge,” says Abou Zaki. “This is another value added service for visitors and exhibitors.”

For the first year, there will be no charge for having a basic stand, what is called an ‘Interlink’, in Virtual Gitex. An Interlink consists of four image slots with hyperlinks to a Web page, a stand assistant and a visitor statistics report.

You can then upgrade your virtual stand to a ‘Theatre’, complete with six image slots and information on 20 products, for $1400. Upgrade through a choice of six more stand types until you reach the very best type of virtual stand, the ‘Flagship.’ This $7800 option gives you 10 unique images, 25 ‘graphics slots’ with hyperlinks and information on 100 products.

In order to start a tour of the Virtual Gitex, users will need to download a fairly sizeable piece of software that plugs itself into Microsoft’s Internet Explorer Web browser. The software can be downloaded from expocentric.com, DWTC’s partner in the development of Virtual Gitex and a leader in bringing exhibitions to the Web.

Once you install the plug-in, you’ll then have to download the basic virtual model of the Gitex exhibition halls. The only part of Virtual Gitex that actually takes place live over the Web at this stage is the interaction with objects and the virtual assistant. This is because bandwidth is not currently fast enough to support realtime online interaction with complex 3D objects.

arabian-business.com found a demonstration of a Virtual Gitex prototype to be great fun. We especially liked the fact that you could walk upstairs, although were disappointed that you couldn’t jump off the top of an exhibition stand.

Downloading all of that software is definitely going to be a headache for a lot of people in the region, but, as Abou Zaki says, this is one for the future. In five years time, assuming local PTTs sort out the bandwidth situation, this could be a great, fun way to enjoy Gitex.

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