Augmented Reality vs. Virtual Reality at Events

June 13, 2019

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Experimenting with “reality” is becoming a popular practice in the event space. Both augmented reality and virtual reality are changing the way event planners engage their attendees, and as the technology continues to evolve, many planners are wondering how it may or may not support their events. Let’s take a look at each one to give you a basic understanding of how the technology works and if it will serve your planning goals.

Augmented reality (AR)

Augmented reality combines computer-generated overlays with physical reality to create an augmented world. Users interact with superimposed images as they move through the real world. Do you remember Pokémon Go? This app made a huge splash when it launched in 2016 and helped shine a light on the potential benefits of AR.

Now, planners have begun to implement the tech into the event space. It is especially useful for enhancing gamification such as scavenger hunts or bingo. Augmented reality allows users to participate on a variety of devices, including smartphones, tablets, special glasses and more. Learn more about what planners are saying about augmented reality here.

Virtual reality (VR)

Virtual reality is a computer-generated environment comprised of photo-rendered content. Rather than viewing a 2D screen in front of them, users are completely immersed in a three dimensional and interactive world. In most cases, VR users need to use equipment to participate-wearing a headset and possibly gloves or handsets.

Virtual reality is an exceptional tool for showcasing products, especially those that may be too cumbersome, expensive or impractical to demo on the tradeshow floor. Let’s say you want to demo several vehicles that are too large for your event space. With VR, you can offer attendees an opportunity to experience the product. Users can see the cars and walk around them, gaining a 360° view simply by wearing the VR equipment.

Users who are unable to attend the event in person can also benefit from VR as they can still engage with and connect to the event in real-time through their headgear.

The future of AR

Technology that becomes mainstream in the consumer space is usually a strong indicator for the event world. Google is taking advantage of augmented reality in the everyday use of the Google Maps app. Soon, users will have a more interactive experience with the app, creating a more efficient navigation. We suggest keeping an eye on this to see the impact that AR has on the general public.

As we look to the future in the event space, we anticipate AR being utilized for wayfinding as well. Users will be able to use their smartphone to move through your event with arrows and superimposed directions over the physical space of your venue.

Cisco recently held an event that featured signposts for AR wayfinding. As attendees pointed their phones at the signposts, images appeared on their screens, guiding them to the next activity or attraction and creating a personalized experience based on an individual’s agenda. With one foot still in the physical world, AR users will be able to network and interact with live presentations and games while using the technology.

The future of VR

The biggest concern with virtual reality events has been that these experiences are often solo, which can temporarily remove an attendee from the communal space of the event (unless the VR experience is specifically designed for a group).

However, this has started to change.  For example, SXSW has offered a VR roller coaster experience. Guests were strapped into seats along with their peers, and had an exciting “ride” to talk about and bond over afterwards.

The reality of the budget

When it comes to virtual reality event planning, the bottom line is that it’s going to be more expensive than creating an augmented reality experience. VR requires equipment, and supplying these at your event can be costly. However, while AR is becoming more mainstream, it is not yet considered a basic feature, and implementing it into your event will also require an investment. Again, whether is makes sense to make that investment will depend on your specific event goals.

How can Stova help?

If you would like to learn more about event tech trends. like augmented vs. virtual reality, and their applications in 2019 and beyond, take a look at this webinar with Stova CEO, Joe Schwinger, in which he discusses AR, VR and more.

We mention this in the webinar – creating a personalized and memorable experience for your attendees is the key to a successful event, and both AR and VR provide unique and exciting solutions. Contact us to learn more about how Stova can help increase event engagement and opportunity at your next event through augmented reality or virtual reality.

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