In this moment, augmented reality is rapidly becoming one of the most exciting new features in every industry, from gaming to education to retail. While some consider augmented reality to be in its infancy, these technologies are beginning to gain traction in some key industries, and its continued growth is beginning to seem inevitable in more and more spaces. It is only a matter of time before augmented reality features are standard practice in event management.
Many of us remain unfamiliar with the real meaning of augmented reality and their potential impact on events. So we’ll break it down for you:
Augmented Reality vs. Virtual reality
Although some may use these terms interchangeably, they describe very different technologies and user experiences. Each has advantages.
Augmented reality overlays computer-generated elements “on top of” users’ experience of reality, to produce a “better” version of the real world. Think Snapchat filters and Pokemon Go – both great examples of how augmented reality can enrich users’ experiences within the real world.
Imagine pointing your phone’s camera at a menu in a foreign country, and seeing the translated version of the menu on your phone, in real time. We are rapidly moving towards a world where everyday people are accustomed to “augmenting” their day-to-day experiences.
Virtual Reality, on the other hand, is a more immersive experience— a three-dimensional computer-generated environment. While experiencing virtual reality, users are transported away from their real surroundings to an entirely different space. Think Inception but cooler.
Users wear a VR headset and may also need to wear other devices, like gloves or handsets to be able to effectively interact with their virtual world. VR is not to be confused with 360 photos or video, which are simply still images or recordings captured in the round. While visually pretty cool, 360 images hardly have the same capabilities as VR.
Why should event planners care about augmented reality?
Yes, AR and VR are exciting concepts that are particularly on trend in 2018, but event planners might be wondering how these new technologies will impact their work. What does the enterprise event industry have to gain from augmented or virtual reality? Simply put, AR and VR have the ability to change the way we discuss, attend and interact at events. There is an endless list of potential new capabilities that can enhance event manager and attendee experiences. Here are just a few potential implications and usages:
VR can bring people to events who might not be able to travel there in person. They can view new products and meet other participants without having travel to the event site.
Via virtual attendance, attendees could interact with other event goers remotely. VIPs who often need to be in two places at once can also appreciate the idea of virtual attendance. They can attend an important meeting in the morning and an event in the afternoon.
Event Managers can now create virtual venues for participants to explore. This has the potential to offer low-cost alternatives to traditional events. Think of what planners could potentially save if they no longer had to allot a budget for an event venue, speakers, lodging, food, and beverages? When holding a trade show through virtual reality, all those costs would be eliminated.
This is a feature that can be both fun and impressive for attendees. With VR, users can tour a home, factory or showroom. Budweiser used this idea at SXSWi to great success. Visitors lined up around the block to take a virtual tour of their brewery. Using sensory enhancement, users were able to smell
the hops and feel the heat and the breeze. Aside from offering an exciting marketing opportunity, VR tours can allow users to better understand the potential of projects that have yet to be built.
Augmented reality name assistant
If you don’t have the budget or time to try some of these more advanced AR or VR features, a new, unique and tech-forward option might be using an AR name assistant feature. Perfect for networking events, users can use AR-glasses to create an augmented overlay, allowing them to see other attendees’ names, titles, companies etc. This allows attendees and planners to make the most of networking opportunities without any awkwardness.
Augmented reality product features
AR is often used in retail to create a more immersive experience for customers and boost sales. Companies such as Amazon and IKEA are beginning to offer new features that will allow their customers to view a product in their home before purchasing. Meanwhile, the New Yorker allows users to see animated AR versions of the front of their magazines. You may consider encouraging vendors that you work with to incorporate some of these features.
Amid all the excitement about AR and VR, make sure that you are applying these new technologies safely. An immersive experience is great—but it comes with the need for increased vigilance while your users leave their physical belongings and surroundings behind, as they “disappear’ into a virtual experience. Make sure to create a safe and secure VR experience at your event using storage, coat check, and lockers.
With these steps in mind, AR and VR can be not only trendy but innovative; an exciting new frontier in events management. At Rainfocus, we’re ready to take advantage of all new technologies at our fingertips.