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Welcome to the world of virtual conferences.

Thanks to the magic of the Internet, more and more organizations are choosing to offer virtual conferences instead of traditional ones. Attendees can watch webcasts of sessions or download videos at their leisure. They can interact with each other through forums, blogs and Twitter. And, best of all, they can avoid airport line-ups, security checks, travel expenses, bland meeting rooms and the huge carbon footprint of air travel—the beauty of a virtual conference is that it can be attended from the comfort of your ergonomic office chair. (or couch. Or bed. Or wherever.)

Virtual conferences also eliminate borders—speakers and attendees can participate from anywhere on Earth, as long as they’ve got a computer and an Internet connection.

So if you’re hankering to learn, network and share information without actually leaving your desk, check out some of these upcoming virtual conferences:

  • SharpBrains Summit (Jan. 18-20, 2010): Over 25 leading speakers and a professional audience will discuss emerging innovation and technology for lifelong cognitive health and performance. The Summit will highlight the convergence of neurocognitive research, non-invasive technology and healthcare, discuss emerging best practices and help predict how a growing range of tools may provide solutions to cognitive health and performance-related issues.
  • The Indian Virtual Conference on Bioinformatics (Feb. 12-13, 2010): Research in the fields of bioinformatics and systems biology has gained momentum within the Indian subcontinent over the last few years. Conference organizers hope the Indian Virtual Converence on Bioinformatics 2010 will foster virtual interactions and collaborations among students and practitioners, as well as allow students to listen to scientists across India, who are among the top researchers in the world in bioinformatics and computational biology.
  • EE Times Virtual Conference: Motor Control (Mar. 25, 2010): The number of devices that use intelligent motor control is growing rapidly. At one end of the spectrum are systems that already contain motors but need to add a new level of intelligence. At the other end of the spectrum are simple devices, like inexpensive toys. This virtual conference looks at the hardware and software required to employ intelligent motor control in an array of applications.
  • IASTED International Conference on Communication Systems and Networks (May 17-21, 2010): An international forum for researchers and practitioners to exchange new ideas and practical experience in the areas of networks and communication systems. The conference provides opportunities to present and observe the latest research, results and ideas in these areas. It aims to strengthen relations between the communications sector, research laboratories and universities.

Strangely enough, the Virtual Edge Summit 2010 (Feb. 22-23, 2010), “the only event that focuses exclusively on providing education, training and solutions for planning and producing virtual events,” is not a virtual conference… but if you’re looking to set up your own virtual conference, it may be worth the airport line-ups, security checks, travel expenses, bland meeting rooms and increase to your carbon footprint for a trip to Santa Clara, California, to see what kinds of technologies and systems can help your organization offer a seamless virtual conference experience.

Vanessa Caldwell

Vanessa is a writer at MaRS. She writes all kinds of things, like posts for the MaRS blog, articles for Convergence (the MaRS magazine) and the weekly MaRS eNewsletters. See more…