Virtual Spaces: Where Real-time Interaction Happens Online


Virtual Spaces are where real-time interaction happens online

Whether we’re working or playing, we live and interact within online Virtual Spaces. A Virtual Space is a digital environment where people and devices, around the world, can seamlessly collaborate, socialize, and exchange they happen. They’re where real-time interactions and experiences happen online. 

What Makes a Virtual Space?

For something to be classified as a virtual space, it typically has the following 4 characteristics:

  1. It’s a digital environment

  2. Multi-user – Involves 2 or more endpoints communicating with one another (people and/or devices)

  3. Interactive – Data/communication (a message, a signal, visual status, or remote action, etc.) is transmitted between endpoints

  4. The interactivity (receipt and exchange of data/communication) occurs in real-time

Are Virtual Spaces and apps the same thing?

Every modern mobile or web app is essentially a portal to a Virtual Space if it provides an online place where people or devices engage with one another.

The existence of a Virtual Space (or Space) is not dependent on time or duration. In fact, a Virtual Space might be a long-running entity where members work together to achieve a quarterly business goal such as a virtual whiteboard. Or a Space might only exist for the duration of a sporting event, allowing fans to react as their team wins a crucial match.

And while time or duration doesn’t make something a Virtual Space (or not), there are a few things that all successful Virtual Spaces have in common in addition to the four we mentioned at the start of this article:

  • They’re scalable to allow for a growing user base

  • They’re highly customizable to meet both the changing needs of end users and the growth plans of creators

  • They contain features that encourage and facilitate interactions between users

  • They enable real-time engagement to mimic real life interactions

  • They’re built with the appropriate attributes and features to enhance functionality and user experience.

How do Virtual Spaces engage users?

When designing an app, there are specific features that can be utilized in order to create an enriching and engaging Virtual Space that is as engaging as real-life and creates loyal end users. These include:

Real-time, in-app chat and message reactions

In-app chat generates a sense of community where users can form their own group chats, privately message one another, or broadcasters can directly engage with their audience while still remaining in-app. On top of that, there are additional features within in-app chat, such as message reactions like a thumb’s up, smiley face, or emojis, that allow users to communicate their mood and how they’re feeling to a message. 

Push notifications and alerts

Push notifications and alerts give apps a way to reach users wherever they are and draw them back to the app. They can be used to notify users when an event is starting, share personalized reminders, or provide real-time status updates on orders.

User and device presence detection 

Presence is a feature that lets you track the online and offline status of users and devices in real time and create updates for changes. These updates include things like alerts for who’s active in a chat or virtual waiting room, when players are online, location, whether a door is open or closed, and other sensor information.

Leaderboards, polling, and quizzes

Interactive leaderboards, polls, surveys, and real-time quizzes add a deeper form of engagement by using gamification to entertain end users.

Access control

Access control gives you the ability to grant or revoke access to a channel. You can use it to ensure security for home automation devices, to monitor social apps, or to make a chat private.

Live maps and dispatch

Display live maps for visual tracking of fleet, drivers, riders, and deliveries to ensure scheduling and accurate asset counts, which helps keep business operations running smoothly. 

Multi-user collaboration 

Synchronizing whiteboards and other content in real-time such as quizzes, trivia, and breakout rooms facilitate enhanced engagement among users and provides them with more value in e-learning or digital virtual metaverse workspaces


Functions provide the flexibility to filter, re-route, aggregate, transform, and augment data. You can translate chat messages into other languages, screen messages for inappropriate content, or even inspect IoT data (like temperature) and trigger specific alerts based on “events” in your application. 

IoT device control and monitoring

Monitor and control smart home devices and systems in real-time. Instantly flag anomalies and see online/offline state visualizations, making it easy to manage home automation, building management, and connected devices.

Real-time dashboards

Live displays present interactive data-driven experiences for gaming leaderboards, auctions, crypto, pricing, and more—and can be used alongside push notifications to update users of new items, pricing changes, highest bids, and more.

What's the best way to build a Virtual Space?

The ideal solution combines all of these capabilities and more in a single platform that is fast, secure, and reliable. With PubNub's Virtual Spaces Platform you get all that, and the assurance that every implementation will be flexible and easily scaled.

What are the benefits of PubNub's Virtual Space Platform?

PubNub's Virtual Spaces Platform offers a collection of capabilities that can be added to apps to improve user experience, stickiness, and loyalty. PubNub already powers thousands of the world’s leading Virtual Spaces that you already know, use, and trust.

With our Virtual Spaces Platform, you will:

  • Improve and modernize user engagement with features that facilitate in-app, real-time connections

  • Drive community through live, full-featured chat, live polls, interactive whiteboards, and many other synchronous real-time experiences

  • Increase time spent in-app and retention through features like real-time alerts, gamification, and rewards

  • Create more opportunities for partnerships and monetization

  • Launch quickly on a platform designed for security and global scale

  • Analyze real-time user experience data to drive business decisions

  • Shape online communities in infinite ways with features like language translation, content moderation, giving you the flexibility to create any unique in-app experience

  • Focus on innovation not infrastructure, using the Virtual Space Platform to accelerate your product roadmap, and stay ahead of the competition

If you’re ready to upgrade your app to an engaging, real-time experience, get in touch with one of our experts. We’ll seamlessly get you up and running with custom real-time chat features for your app.