As the world changes and technologies expand, we are faced with the chance to harness things like AR and VR in events for our advantage. More specifically, we learn the full power of these technologies and how much they can do for our industry.

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While AR and VR in events have been around for a while, the concepts can still be quite baffling. More than that, it becomes a challenge to learn exactly how they can be leveraged in a successful way. With trial and error, and a considerable dose of headaches, it’s possible to turn AR and VR into serious allies.

In today’s episode of Event Tech Podcast, Will Curran and Brandt Krueger discuss all things AR and VR related to events. What are the controversies associated with the technologies? How have they been implemented successfully, or not so much? What were the reasons for this? What does the future hold? Join them as they travel through the unexplored world of AR and VR in the event industry! And to make sure you never miss an episode, subscribe to the Event Tech Podcast here.


Click here for the full audio transcription.

What Is What?

AR and VR are super exciting. So exciting that, in the midst of all the excitement, it’s easy to get lost and feel confused. First things first, it’s important to know how to distinguish AR from VR, mostly because they represent different things.

Augmented Reality

Will puts forward some neat definitions, presenting AR as “augmented reality, the idea that you’re taking an existing world, and you’re augmenting and changing it in some way. Common examples of this is when you hold up your phone, it uses your camera to overlay and drop items in reality. Like for example, I’m looking at glasses. If I use my selfie camera, show it at my face and it overlays glasses over my face. It takes the reality which is me not having glasses and puts glasses on me. Or if you’ve ever used Google’s phone camera app, it allows you to drag and drop Star Wars characters into reality, and then boom, you have a Stormtrooper standing in your living room. Super cool, augmented reality”.

Virtual Reality 

The realm of virtual reality is slightly different. Will explains that “virtual reality is more closed off. It really doesn’t take into account the rest of the world. It creates a brand new world in a way. There are some times where virtual reality can mix with augmented reality. For example, you can be in a world, a black box, and all of a sudden it’s taking the world around you. But really, virtual reality technically is you’re in a closed loop system, and you’re putting on a headset, and it’s going black, and then boom, this new reality that gets mixed in with you, and you’re in a blank box.”

What Does This Mean?

In their essence, AR and VR are different. While we do witness a tendency for both to converge, the main point of divergence comes down to the exciting ways AR can bring a glow up to our work lives. As Will puts it, “whereas VR very much I think is stuck in entertainment land right now (…) augmented reality, everyone’s going, ‘Well how can we use this for work, and making things safer, and guided instructions?'”.

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AR & VR: How Do They Fit Into Events?

Skepticism Is Real

It’s common to see resistance inside of the industry in regards to AR and VR. “Some of the more purists in the industry really take home that face to face part of events, and wouldn’t want to have anything to do with this type of technology because it takes away from that. I think that’s a legitimate point. It’s a legitimate skepticism of, let’s look at our event whether it makes sense to incorporate some of this technology. But I think one of the things that we need to do to move past this idea that VR and AR is just a gimmick, it’s just something that’s in the corner, like a photo booth or something like that”, says Brandt.

Threat Or Plus?

While the skepticism that comes with implementing AR and VR is common because “we make money off the physical experience”, this doesn’t mean the downfall of events. On the contrary, these technologies are simply the next step into elevating the event experience for everyone involved. As Brandt puts it, “it’s the idea that you can have a group experience with this technology, but you still can blend in all of the other aspects of your event” as opposed to “this is going to cannibalize and take away from (…) events.”

Purely Virtual

On the topic of AR and VR, as professionals, it’s also important to think about the future and what it might bring. Brandt suggests that “there’s going to be some new types of events that are totally virtual”. And while that’s one hundred percent true, it’s also a fact that they won’t “replace in-person events”.

All in all, “it’s gonna open up some new avenues, just like social media opened up new avenues, and opened up new ways of meeting people”.

What Is Coming Is Better Than What’s Gone

Technology that involves things like AR and VR “has come leaps and bounds in just the last few years, and that’s going to just continue to accelerate because they’re starting to see investment”. This means amazing things are gonna start popping up, that have immense potential for the event industry.

One of the coolest things that have been going around includes physical sensation and touch. Brandt really drives the point home on this one – “now we start to get into an interesting realm where you don’t have to touch the nasty kiosk that’s been touched by 100 people before, and you got to immediately go sanitize your hand”.

Conclusion

Whether you’re a skeptical or a die-hard fan, there’s no denying AR and VR have come to stay, and are sure to leave their mark on the event industry.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you have previous experience implementing AR and VR into events? Do you think they will completely reshape the industry as we know it? Let us know in the comments below!

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Brandt Krueger

Author Brandt Krueger

With over 20 years experience in the meetings and events industry, Brandt has spoken at industry events and seminars all over the world, been published in numerous magazines and websites, and teaches public and private classes on meeting and event technology and production. He provides freelance technical production services, and is the owner of Event Technology Consulting.

More posts by Brandt Krueger

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