If you are an event prof, I am pretty sure that you haven’t missed the exciting yet confusing new trend of Virtual and Augmented Reality for events. Blogs, newsletters, e-books, videos, everything surrounding the events industry talks about virtual reality and augmented reality these days.
Virtual and Augmented Reality have emerged as some of the most exciting and innovative event technology trends in the last decade. While they are yet in their nascent stage, the popularity that they have already received indicates the impact that they are going to have on the meetings and events industry.
The last few years have witnessed some very unique and creative ways in which Virtual and Augmented Reality can be used to make an event grander than ever. We’ll discuss some of the best of those ideas in this blog. But before that let us cover the basics first.
Back to the Basics
Before discussing the ways to use virtual reality and augmented reality at events, let us first discuss the basics of the two concepts.
The primary idea that dominates the concept of virtual reality is creating something that is ‘almost real’. The idea of Global Village requires us to be able to interact with each other without boundaries. Virtual Reality is one of the tools that facilitate such communications.
If you are looking for the dictionary meaning, the Oxford Dictionary defines Virtual Reality as:
The computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors.
A simple example of the presence of Virtual Reality in our daily lives can be seen in Google Cardboard.
When it comes to the events industry, VR is either used as an integral part of live events (hybrid events) in order to make them more interactive; or it is used to facilitate complete virtual events.
Though similar to Virtual Reality, the difference with AR is that instead of creating a new different realm of reality, it adds to what already exists. Ever played Pokémon Go? Yes. That magic is created by Augmented Reality.
Going to the dictionary definition, the Oxford Dictionary defines Augmented Reality as:
A technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view.
Since AR just adds a new dimension to the existing reality, it is usually just used as a part of live or hybrid events.
10 Ways to Use Virtual and Augmented Reality at you event
Now that we know what the two things do for us, we can go to the application part of it. Next up you’ll find 10 simple yet creative ways in which VR and AR can change the face of your next event:
1. Host your dream event VIRTUALLY.
The rise of virtual events has opened a whole new dimension for the entire event industry. People from any corner of the world can connect be together in a virtual realm attending an event.
While the idea looks really futuristic, it can be affirmatively said that this future is here. Thanks to Virtual Reality, we are now even able to host completely virtual events that are just as good as the real ones.
From networking to interactions in conferences and presenting to attending trade shows, everything can be done with a virtual event.
2. Get a lot more people to attend your event.
If you are not comfortable with the idea of going for a completely virtual event, you can also go for a hybrid event. Such events are hosted just like conventional events with a lot of attendees and a proper structure.
The only difference they have is that apart from the live audience, there are also a lot of virtual attendees present there from different parts of the world.
And don’t mistake it to be live streaming of events on your television screen. Thanks to virtual reality, the attendees can not only see the event but also experience it.
Remember the VR broadcast of the 2016 Rio Olympics? That’s exactly what this is about.
3. Make things interesting with a little Gamification.
With the rise of event technology, Event Gamification has become this one new popular trend. The benefits of it are pretty obvious as well. You can make a serious academic conference a bit more fun and relaxing by gamifying it.
This way, you can teach the attendees a little something while allowing them to enjoy. You can help them network, you can collect some feedback, promote your sponsors and do what not with some simple gamification.
And guess what? Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality help you do that very conveniently as well as creatively. VR gaming sets have become quite popular nowadays and you can find them everywhere. Use such sets to add a little interesting gamification corner in your event.
4. Display your products like never before.
Volkswagen came up with an application for its Golf Cabriolet using AR and VR. No matter where you are, this application allows you to explore the car like it is in front of you on your smartphone device.
From its size to its features, everything can be explored like it is really there.While this application was circulated globally, you can use a similar concept at your next tradeshow or product launch. Let us say you are hosting a car launch event.
Allowing the entire audience to experience the car features in front of them is almost next to impossible. But if you make use of a VR application, you can surely do that.
Not just with cars, but with any product that you are presenting, you can use AR and VR to make things appear in front of your audience.
5. Display your products in action.
This idea is also relevant for tradeshows and product launches. While displaying the product design is sufficient in most cases, some products can just not be justified that way.
Say for example that you are launching a unique food production machine. You can settle for displaying a model design of the machine But how better would it be if the attendees could actually see the products being manufactured with a VR model?
You can display any product live in action by making use of VR and justify the essence of it.
6. Allow your attendees to network better.
The importance of networking for any event is understood by all the event profs. Networking is one of the key reasons why people attend events. So, how about helping your attendees network better with AR? That’s right!
The use of devices like the Google Glasses at events has gained a lot of popularity recently. And trust me, it is definitely worth it! One of the main features that such devices can add to your ‘attendee experience’ is better networking.
Attendees can get to know each other way better with such technology than they would usually do.Think of it this way. What if the professional information of every attendee could be presented right next to them? Sounds like a Sci-Fi? Well, it can be done with those Google Glasses.
7. Help your speakers give an AR speech.
After networking, the second driving force to an event is the speakers. A prime goal of attendees is usually to learn something new regarding the industries.
The speeches and presentations were given by eminent personalities of the industry usually suffice this need of the attendees.But did you know that along with a great speaker, AR can also make such speeches totally unique and amazing?
You can have some interactive Augmented Reality models and designs prepared before-hand that can assist the speech of your speakers. This would really give your attendees an ‘out of the box’ experience.
Watch Bill Chang from SingTel give a speech using AR here:
8. Make your attendees smile with a fun mirror AR model.
Adding fun and interactive elements to the event should always be a priority for event planners. One tech-savvy and unique way to do this is to use the technology of mirror AR.
In mirror AR, the viewers don’t see themselves exactly as they are, but instead with some augmented components added to their real reflection. Determine the elements that you wish to add to the reflections, get a model created and watch your attendees have a lot of fun in front of the mirror at your event.
This technology can not only be used fun but also as a marketing element if your event is related to the beauty industry. In such cases, the attendees can see how they would look by using the featured product or service. This can have a great impact on their perception of your product.
9. Go tech-savvy with virtual information booths.
The importance of information booths for events is pretty obvious. Especially when it comes to large-scale events, an information booth becomes crucial to guide attendees with their issues. But how about the idea that we go virtual here as well?
By using Virtual Reality, you can impeccably create information booths that are all virtual. Input all the information that you think your attendees might need for the event and VR will take care of the rest.
10. Give your attendees some virtual tours.
VR and AR are widely used across industries for providing virtual tours. This concept can be used for events as well.
You can design a virtual tour of the entire event venue which would orient your attendees with the place. Especially if you are hosting an event with a grand venue, virtual tours can come really handy for your attendees.
Without having to physically locate every single location in the venue, they can explore everything using a virtual tour.
The world of virtual reality and augmented reality has literally just begun. If this is what all we can achieve with it today, the future is surely unimaginable.
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