by Emily Giunta
• VR & AR event applications
• Tools for success
Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are revolutionizing the way event professionals can design event elements and engage attendees. From exhibit booths to trainings, there are many ways to incorporate AR and VR for multi-sensory experiences. These technologies are becoming easier to access because of developing technology – both content and viewing devices.
Virtual reality is 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.
VR is different than 360-degree video, which is just an image or recording of a space. You may have seen 360-video of the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. There was live VR coverage that could be viewed using actual VR headsets, but the 180- or 360-videos were also viewable without anything more than just using the NBC app making it accessible to anyone in the world who had access to a smartphone.
Augmented reality is a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view.
VR takes you out of your current environment using a multi-sensory experience while AR adds to your current environment enriching your reality experience.
AR took center stage when Pokemon Go spread like wildfire in the summer of 2016. Other places you may have encountered AR would be in sports and news broadcasts. AR is commonly used in sports broadcasting to display graphics such as score overlays or positions in car races to give viewers more detailed views.
Examples of how you could use AR for events:
• Create a Snapchat Filter - AR is very accessible to users who already have a smartphone. Snapchat uses AR elements, and you can easily create a variety of location-specific Snapchat filters centered around your event to engage attendees using this technology.
• Holograms - AR technology allows for a speaker to appear on stage speaking and interacting with an audience almost as if they were there in attendance or the King of Pop performing one last time on stage. VNTANA Interactive hologram technologies (www.Vntana.com) creates immersive marketing solutions with interactive celebrity holograms or hologram telepresence which allows a keynote to have two-way communication with an audience in real time.
Examples of how you could use VR for events:
• Demo your products or services to educate and show full capabilities of use; an auto brand may showcase the exterior options as well as new interior colors and features without ever bringing a car into an exhibit hall.
• Create an educational training tutorial on how to use a product … but set in the actual environment. Imagine learning how to use new construction equipment and feeling like you’re on an actual construction site.
• Experiential marketing to a new level – Merrell created a “trailscape” (www.MWMeet.com/Trailscape) at the 2015 Sundance film festival that takes experiential marketing to new heights. Watch the video link to see how attendees could experience hiking and climbing on a mountaintop.
• Promote your event through VR – allow future attendees to see what it was like to attend previous events like being in the middle of a dancing crowd during Coachella music festival or being in the driver’s seat at Daytona Speedway.
Another practical use of VR for event professionals is virtual site visits. Virtual tours using 360-video can give you great insight on a venue. Imagine if you can experience venue spaces from across the globe in your home or office. Hotels or venues can share property options without having to leave the office. Destination management companies can share offsite tours and activities. This could provide a big savings on resources of time and money when planning events.
Future tradeshows may look very different and not need the expansive space they currently do. What if you could provide attendees coming into your booths with an experience to showcase your product, such as driving a car or utilizing a product like painting equipment in a particular application just by putting on headsets?
What tools do you need to use VR?
VR is viewed most commonly through Desktop or Mobile VR. There are a variety of headsets that allow you to participate fully in VR. Here are a few on the market: The Oculus Rift (www.MWMeet.com/Oculus), HTC Vive (www.Vive.com), and Samsung Gear VR (www.MWMeet.com/SamsungVR). Google Cardboard (www.MWMeet.com/Cardboard) provides an inexpensive, 360-degree experience by strapping your phone into a cardboard viewer.
Content can be custom-created for your event through computer generated videos & cameras. You can also use created content, where you can ride a bike on a trail, fly a helicopter, walk through a museum, or play interactive video games.
Considerations/Questions to ask
You still want to address the goals, needs, and outcome of your event before deciding how to add value by incorporating VR and AR into it. Define your objective: Are you educating or training, planning a product release, or providing entertainment? From there you can make decisions to apply the technology to achieve your desired outcome.
This fast-paced, emerging technology is another tool that is nearly limitless. It can be used across the board and throughout many industries to teach, market, and entertain through heightened sensory experiences. Experiences so impactful to those who participate they are sure to create lasting memories.