Smart conferences: Virtual and augmented reality at Meetings & Events
A lot has changed since last year for property consultants at a banking company in Nuremberg. Instead of taking a printed exposé to customer meetings, they now use a tablet. If the customer is interested in a property, the consultant launches a special app and focuses the tablet’s camera on a photograph of the house. The app recognizes the property and shows the customer around it on the screen. That means the customer can take a virtual tour of the property together with the consultant on the very first appointment, saving both of them time and money. In addition, it is an extremely attractive means of presenting real estate. If a customer is still interested after the virtual tour of the house, there is a much higher probability that an actual visit will be successful.
Welcome to the age of smart conferences, thanks to the innovation of augmented reality (AR). Expanding the human field of vision with computer-generated elements is not only worthwhile for industry, assembly and medicine; events, conferences and sales can also benefit from the technology in many ways. Experts call it a revolution. No wonder – augmented reality combines virtual information with the real world with the help of screens, cameras and sensors to transform real objects into an interactive AR experience. The technology can also be used by companies to present their products in a unique way, either at their customer’s premises or in their own conference rooms. As humans are visual creatures, augmented reality is an ideal form of communication. By visualizing objects in 3D, AR can really wow customers and grab their attention. As well as this emotional component, augmented reality also has a more practical side: Large or complex products that require additional explanation can be demonstrated vividly and their features shown in detail. Augmented reality offers considerable potential for real estate and mechanical engineering, for museums and churches as well as for tourism and retail.
This applies even more to AR’s “big sister” – virtual reality (VR). Users can immerse themselves in a virtual world by putting on a special headset that transports them to a computer-generated environment. Machines that are too big to fit into a conference room or a trade fair stand can be demonstrated in their original size and even operated thanks to VR. Customers can gain an impression of the actual size of the machine and try out different functions, making it ideal for use at trade fairs or in-house exhibitions. Airlines can also benefit from the technology: Instead of displaying their new business class in a PowerPoint presentation, they can ask visitors to put on a headset and experience the seats themselves. In the words of Felix V. Vezjak, Senior Director Meetings & Events Central Europe at CWT, “Virtual reality is a tremendous technology for bringing content to life. For example, it can be used to present new products such as real estate or large machines at sales conferences, motivating customers and increasing the chance of achieving sales targets.”
Keeping costs in check
VR headsets and the technology they require have now become much more affordable, and can also be rented. Preparing company-specific content is a more cost-intensive and time-consuming task. However, compared to the cost of real-life presentations, e.g. of construction equipment to customers abroad, VR technology can even save money. On the other hand, ready-made free content is more suitable for giving a company celebration or a PR meeting a special touch.
Augmented reality for M&E
One of the most promising opportunities of AR is in connection with so-called gamification. This refers to the use of game-based elements to engage participants in a unique way. For example, the game “Snatch” takes players on a virtual treasure hunt. Participants have to “unwrap” presents hidden around the event location and get to win real prizes. “Previously, participants experienced an event in the same way,” explains Kate Taylor-Tett from Snatch. “Today, AR applications can react to the movements and environment of each individual player. Clearly, a higher degree of individualization leads to more interaction. That is not only true for games, but for many industries – from healthcare to retail and even marketing.”
Participants spend 90 minutes a day on average on marketing platforms based on this AR game. That means consumers spend a lot more time on the platform and above all with the affiliated brand partners than on a conventional communication platform. This has obvious advantages for the brands being communicated on the one hand, and is great fun for participants, who can find out all about the brand via augmented reality. Are you looking for ways to liven up your event, for example with VR or AR? CWT Meetings & Events will be glad to help you with planning and organization.
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