Virtual reality has really taken off within consumer tech this year. We have seen it go from cumbersome headsets connected to a myriad of wires, to apps for the smartphone as well as affordable home headsets.
Gaming is the obvious application for VR, but upon further research, I was surprised to discover that VR is used in a wide variety of sectors from the military, to medicine, construction, business and fashion.
I recently had a meeting with a VR and AR technology supplier to discuss how VR and AR can be used in events. We discussed how we could create bespoke apps and games to engage target audiences. How AR applications can be used to communicate content rather than have a printed brochure. How VR can be used so people in locations across the world can appear to be in the same boardroom.
Whoa – this is where I started to backtrack. I’m all for embracing new technology, especially when it streamlines an event. But we’re also in the business of bringing people together: to share ideas, discover new ones and make personal business connections. Face to face.
So, I wondered: how can we utilise VR and AR without losing that personal connection that only an event can nurture?
We envisage it working in tandem with conferences and product launches, or a content-heavy event where guests can access the information through an app, saving the need for printed brochures or banners.
Team building events also get their bit of AR treatment: creating a ‘Pokémon Go’ style game, alleviating restrictions some venues have on equipment set-up, putting an end to the jittery negotiations when we ask to attach props to grade I listed walls!
As always, balance is the key: between introducing this new technology in events, without losing the whole point of the event in the process – bringing people together. Just as augmented reality suggests, the technology should enhance the guest’s experience. Not even technology can replace the reality and indeed, necessity, of face to face.