Technology is an ever-changing industry in which new developments allow for businesses to do new and exciting things that really capture their audience's attention. Virtual and augmented reality are two of the most exciting developments over recent years, and their implications are having an impact in multiple sectors, including events.
So, what is virtual reality and augmented reality and what’s the difference?
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are similar technologies that have distinct differences. However, both centre around the need to create immersive experiences that go beyond the traditional 2D interfaces that we are most accustomed to.
Virtual reality will usually require the use of a headset (and potentially gloves or a handset) to enter a completely computer-generated 3-dimensional environment. Users are able to interact with the computer-generated world using a variety of apparatus. An example of this is many of the games that are available on Playstation through their proprietary VR headset.
Augmented reality is a blend of the real world and the digital world, which requires computer-generated imagery overlayed into real-world situations. A popular example of this includes the exponentially popular Pokemon Go game, in which digital characters are overlayed into real-world scenarios through geolocation. AR is commonly achieved with just the use of a mobile device.
How can AR and VR be used within the events industry?
Like all good technologies, both AR and VR can be applied to many industries, and events are no exception. Both technologies have the potential to revolutionise the way people are able to attend events and interact with them.
With VR, it’s entirely possible for somebody to attend an event without physically being there, helping to break down barriers and include attendees from far and wide who can’t make the journey. It offers the ability to also create experiences within an event using relatively inexpensive equipment that can really add some wow factor. It could also provide turn by turn directions around an event.
AR enables event organisers to create augmented experiences that are only limited by imagination. For example, AR could be combined with facial-recognition software to profile event speakers and offer additional information. It could also be incorporated into stand design for expos to overlay computer-generated imagery and branding using AR headsets or glasses.
See this short video that demonstrates AR in use at an event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZruwHx3OnkQ
The future of AR and VR at events
As is the case with most technologies, AR and VR are both very much in their infancy but with limitless possibilities. Both present an opportunity for event organisers to create immersive experiences that capture attention and drive further revenue form those who are eager to try them, if for nothing else than the novelty.
Of course, eventually, the novelty factor will wear off, however, that doesn’t mean the technology will become obsolete. It simply means that event organisers will need to use it to drive true value and create experiences that allow attendees to engage more deepy, whether that be with speakers, exhibitors or the event itself.