We live in a world where reality is no longer just what we see in front of us. We no longer have to rely on our senses to govern our experience of things, as technology allows us to create sensations that mimic the real thing so well, that we often aren’t able to tell the difference.
Extended Reality technology has transformed the virtual, live and hybrid event space. Using these revolutionary technologies, event planners now have the ability to digitally enhance guests’ environments, transport them to a whole new space and even allow them to interact with holographic objects. These cutting-edge technologies will help you create an unforgettable experience for your guests, no matter where in the world they are tuning in from.
Flock covers the basics of this seemingly daunting technology. What does extended reality mean? What exactly is virtual reality? What’s the difference between augmented reality and virtual reality? Flock provides all the information you need to get up-to-speed on extended, virtual and augmented reality and how these technologies can be utilised during your next event. We also give you insight into some of the best extended reality products currently available.
Extended Reality Explained
People are often confused by the different types of extended reality, so here we break down this complex term to the sum of its parts.
Extended Reality (XR) is a term used to encompass all virtual and real environments that are enhanced by computer technology. Augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality are all examples of XR and all have the potential to completely change the way we interact with our day-to-day environments, businesses and event spaces.
Augmented Reality (AR) takes our existing reality and enhances it by overlaying our real-world events with digital experiences. AR is already part of our everyday lives and is the most accessible form of XR. It narrows the space between reality and technology by bringing elements of the digital space into our natural environment. The most common examples of AR are Instagram and Snapchat filters. Companies have capitalised on this trend by allowing customers to use AR technology when browsing their products and services. Just by using your phone, you are able to decorate your house, re-paint your walls or change your hair.
Virtual Reality (VR), unlike AR, is a completely immersive experience. Instead of enhancing your existing reality, VR transforms your reality completely and transposes you to a whole new environment. The most popular forms of VR are VR headsets as well as 360° videos on Youtube or Google Earth. VR allows you to go anywhere in the world and this creates limitless possibilities for businesses operating in the online space, especially online and hybrid events.
Mixed Reality (MR) is a combination of AR and VR and is the most recent advancement in extended reality technology. It is experienced through mixed reality glasses or headsets and allows people to interact with physical and digital objects in real time. Microsoft’s Hololens is one example of a device that supports mixed reality experiences. It is a headset that projects holograms you are able to manipulate and interact with.
Extended Reality and Events
XR is a game-changer for event planners, especially now that online and hybrid events have taken over the global event space. Being able to utilise these technologies will allow you to bring your guests closer to your brand and business. The opportunity to add value is endless with XR and events are the perfect space where those features can be tested.
Here are some ways you can incorporate XR tech into your next event:
- Virtual ExhibitionsTrade shows and exhibitions are really benefiting from advancements in VR technology. COVID-19 and the subsequent global lockdown has opened up the possibilities of global art exhibitions and other trade show exhibits. With 360° videos, exclusive content, previously only available during live exhibitions and trade shows, is now accessible from wherever you are.
- Behind-the-scenes toursClients and guests love feeling like they are part of the process. VR allows you to give them an inside look into what makes your brand unique. Some examples include VR tours of how products are made. Being able to bring your customers into your process allows them to create an emotional connection with your brand.
- Immersive experiencesWhat better way to convince a customer to buy your product or service than showing them just how much it will enhance their lives? This is possible with VR and MR technology. Allow customers to ‘try on’ your product by immersing them in an interactive experience where they are able to use and experience your offering.
- Live commenting and pollsWe see this feature of AR almost every day on social media. Instagram TV, or IGTV, has enabled a live commenting feature where users’ comments are displayed in real time while the video is playing. Youtube Live also has this functionality. You can utilise this same feature in your next online or hybrid event and allow your guests to feel like they are part of the event. Ask questions or ask for suggestions in the comment section. This will not only add value for your guests, but will also allow you, as event planners to utilise information from the comments to improve on future events.
There are many brands that are utilising XR to improve their company’s offering. These technologies have not only become commonplace in the events industry but have extended to film, fashion and design. Some popular products include:
- ARWallThis revolutionary technology is changing the landscape of the entertainment industry by replacing the outdated and cumbersome green screen for major film productions, advertisements and television shows. ARWall, a spatial imaging technology company, involves digital backdrops that display realistic VFX that require little to no fixing in post-production. This AR solution can be used in the event and client-facing space as well, by replacing the green screen during virtual events and creating a seamless experience for event planners and the post-production team.
- FXMirrorThe FXMirror is an AR fitting-room solution that allows shoppers to try on clothes while providing retailers with customer data. Shoppers don’t have to get in and out of different outfits, instead they just stand in front of the mirror, choose their desired option and ‘try on’ their clothes. The FXMirror can also be used for product launches, worldwide. For example, if a shoe company is launching a new shoe, you could tune in to the online event and with this AR solution, you could try on the shoe and see how it looks before purchasing it online.
- LightformLightform Projected AR’s vision is to try and make AR a part of our everyday life, seamlessly and creatively. Lightform only requires a projector and a creation programme compatible with both Mac and PC. You won’t need any headsets or glasses, making this technology compatible, transportable and most importantly, accessible. Transform any event space with Lightform and create an inviting, and beautiful atmosphere that will both intrigue and engage your guests.
The world of VR and AR is only just opening up for popular consumption, which means there is still so much more to be created and explored. For now, Flock Eventing Platform is an event tech company that remains at the forefront of all ground-breaking technologies.