STAMFORD, CT — A Portal has opened in Stamford that can connect residents to people all over the world. Created by Shared_Studios and currently located in Latham Park, the Portal is a physical space that connects users through live feeds of people from other countries shown on full-body screens, creating the illusion users on both sides are in the same room together.
According to Sandy Goldstein, president of the Stamford Downtown Special Services District, there are 40 other Portals in various locations across the globe, including others in the United States.
"The Portal holds eight to ten people at a time," Goldstein said. "You come into contact with one of these places, let's say Mexico, and you have a topic you want to talk about, whether it's food or music...whatever interests you, and you can talk to real people in Mexico or wherever the other Portal locations are. There are 40 of them worldwide. It is incredible."
Though the free Portal service is currently located in Latham Park, it is scheduled to move to Columbus Park in early July. It will then go to the University of Connecticut's Stamford campus, Mill River Park and Harbor Point respectively. Goldstein said the DSSD has not decided yet if the Portal will move to other locations in Stamford after that.
A soft opening for the Portal was held last week, which Goldstein said was "very successful." One day started with a 10 a.m. connection to San Juan, Puerto Rico and was followed by a connection to Nigeria at noon.
The Portals also have trained curators present for translating, so users do not need to speak the same language. The DSSD is currently interviewing to find a curator.
A schedule can be found here, which lists Open Hours connections and the option to book a slot.
Several events are being planned for the Portal, including lunch with a group of people in South America. Participants on both sides will have the opportunity talk with each other about the food they are eating, what they usually have for breakfast or dinner and other similar topics.
"For Alive@5, we're going to bring a small group of musicians into our Portal and they're going to connect with musicians in Europe," Goldstein said. "We're also going to have a beer party in the Portal and we're going to join a group in Belgium or Germany, so it's a very exciting opportunity to expand your horizons and meet people from another country you might otherwise never meet."
The DSSD is also currently engaging community groups to put together events and other opportunities pertaining to the Portal.
"I hope people enjoy the mind-engaging experience of meeting people from around the world," Goldstein said. "I want people to come on down to Latham Park, look around and get interested."
For more information about Stamford's Shared_Studios Portal, click here.