New York tech company, Shared Studios, has set up its first Australian portal at the old Royal Adelaide Hospital. The Adelaide Portal is sponsored by Renewal SA, the government's Department for Parties to 'activate' the site while it starts to demolish the non heritage listed buildings on the site. It follows on from an earlier activation event, The Hive at the RAH.
Portals are a world wide phenomenon created by Shared Studios. They are a series of installations that allow people to interact with others in real time through connected portals around the world. The distinctive gold painted shipping containers used as portals are filled with immersive technology. Shared Studios promise that when you enter a portal, you will come face-to-face with someone in a distant portal "live and full-body, as if in the same room".
The free Adelaide Portal was first seen at Hybrid World Adelaide at Tonsley in October last year. It must have made an impression then, now finding a new home at the former Royal Adelaide Hospital in Adelaide's east end.
You'll Find the Adelaide Portal at the Former Royal Adelaide Hospital in the East End
When you enter the gold painted portal, you have the opportunity to meet with people in other portals around the world free of charge. From New York to Palestine, from universities to refugee camps, the shipping container portal lets users immerse themselves in real-time conversations to entertain, challenge and delight. Fortunately it's not at all like the random conversations that Microsoft Netmeeting brought a few years back, when you were just as likely to get an x-rated encounter.
While the portal at the former Royal Adelaide Hospital is housed in a gold shipping container, there are around 20 other portals operating in the world at any given time. Some of the others are also in shipping containers, but there is also a portal bus, inflatable portals, and portal screens.
The Adelaide Portal can fit four adults comfortably at a time, or more if the people are children. You can communicate however you like while you're online - talk, dance, sing or draw, it's up to you. If a translator is needed, one will be provided. It is possible to connect to more than one location at once, but normally one destination works best.
It's recommended that you book in advance to use the free Adelaide Portal. Bookings are made in 20 minute slots, and the Shared Studios booking website will show you which part of the world the portal connects through at the time of your booking. It's possible to choose times from Thursday to Saturday until March, with the full schedule available when booking.
For more information about the Adelaide Portal, head over to the Adelaide Riverbank Facebook page. There's much more about the portal and its origin on the Shared Studios website, or you can just book your time here.
During February and March the Adelaide portal will be hosting the Fringe on World Tour event and be open on some Saturdays at differing times. Check the Facebook event website - plenty of entertainment, food, and drink will be on hand, stay tuned for more details.
After you have finished making new friends around the world in the portal, why not take a look at the old Royal Adelaide Hospital site, and take a last look at how it once was. Its future is still unknown at this time, despite several public consultations and a worldwide competition. Most people believe that the site should remain in the hands of the community, an extension of the existing cultural boulevard, rather than being wasted on housing.