The challenge for any event professional is creating engaging customer experiences. In today’s digital age, empowering content whether through social media or the internet is accessible at the click of a button. This means we need to start thinking of new and exciting ways to engage our target audiences and make content even easier to access. Despite virtual reality (VR) being the buzzword of 2016, the technology itself isn’t new. However, with the recent launch of VR headsets like the Samsung Gear, HTC VIVE and Oculus Rift, as well as Google Cardboard, the technology is finally affordable to the consumer. According to Event Manager Blog, the definition of virtual reality is ‘a computer-generated “environment” that allows the participant to move and interact with images in the way that simulates the physical world’. So, where does the technology sit within the events space?
As an event production company, we work with clients on the concept and creation of engaging ideas on a day to day basis. What better way to interact and engage with your audience than to create a multi-sensory environment that completely immerses them with your brand? Predominantly VR is seen as something that is enjoyed as an individual; you become immersed within an environment oblivious to where you are and who you are with. This gives you the ability to take delegates on a unique journey and build trust and credibility for your brand. At an event last year, Patron Tequila used VR to do just that. The brand took delegates on a tequila-making journey, creating a 4D immersive experience by filling the room with the smell of fresh agave as they watched tequila being made. (You can read the full case study here) Within events, VR opens up options for brands to make an unforgettable impact on their audiences that goes far beyond any other printed or digital communications.
The hype around VR this year seems to have left behind its close neighbour augmented reality (AR). Unlike VR, AR uses the ‘real world’ and places virtual elements within it to enhance a viewer’s experience. It has been used by consumers within the mass market for a long time. More recently apps like SnapChat and Pokémon GO have proven its capabilities within social media but one of our favourite examples has to be Pepsi Max’s ‘Unbelievable Bus Shelter’. As part of their #LiveForNow campaign, the brand wanted to bring their customers the unbelievable and used AR to do just that. The side of a bus shelter in the middle of London showed aliens erupting from drain covers and tigers strolling down the high street, with the aim of creating a genuine reaction from viewers. This campaign shows how AR can be used creatively to provoke reactions and change perceptions, but the technology can be used within every industry to add additional value to existing content making it easier for people to view and capture information. The topic was discussed at last year’s Event Tech Live on the panel, ‘Augmented reality and virtual reality, a practical application for events?‘.
Right now, the affordability of VR such as Google Cardboard can not only benefit live events but it also has the ability to enhance the pitching process and the delivery of presentations. The exciting bit is that the more sophisticated VR headsets have the potential to completely revolutionise the way we attend events. It’s interesting to think that the restrictions around locations and time differences may soon be a distant memory and we could see meetings and events being attended virtually across the globe.
Augmented reality also has the ability to change, or at least add value to the way we interact with an event. More or less, each member of your audience will carry a smartphone and therefore they already have the tool they need to engage with your content, making it much easier to implement. It offers a collective experience accessed easily by delegates, something that for the most part VR doesn’t allow you to do.
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If you want to learn more about how Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality could be used at your event, give us a call or leave us a message and we’ll get back to you.