4 Steps to Integrating AR and VR Into Your Event

October 5, 2017

Scott Schoeneberger

Scott Schoeneberger is the executive vice president of marketing and a board member at Bluewater Technologies, a company devoted to helping enterprising brands bring innovation, experience and messaging to life.

Augmented reality and virtual reality sound like something out of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” right? Or, if you’ve been paying attention, perhaps you’re well aware of how virtual reality glasses are becoming a hit among younger generations, with 15-year-olds clamoring to get a pair for video game sessions. However, augmented and virtual reality are becoming a very real part of life, and it’s time to consider adding them to your event agenda.

By the year 2020, it’s estimated that the virtual and augmented reality market will be worth close to $120 billion and be accessible to more than 350 million people. With this projected rise in popularity, our visual society will be expecting to engage with VR and AR technology on a frequent basis. Given that this technology still won’t exactly be a household name by tomorrow, why not incorporate it into an event today and give the attendees an experience to remember?

Many industries are already getting behind the VR and AR hype. The art world has embraced it, with New York City’s New Museum opening an exhibition titled “First Look: Artists’ VR.” The Arlington Science Focus School in Arlington, Virginia, is using VR lenses for virtual field trips, taking its students to the Smithsonian Museum virtually rather than having to deal with Washington, D.C.’s gridlocked traffic.

As VR and AR start making waves in top industries, it’s time to consider how you could incorporate it into your own. Here are steps to take when you decide to add it to your event repertoire:

1. Determine whether this technology is a good fit. There is nothing worse than using technology for technology’s sake. Consider the options before jumping into AR or VR simply because both are the latest buzzwords. Remember, the public can smell a phony from a mile away.

2. Create a strategy for how you will use the technology. Will it be used to supplement storytelling? Will you use it to showcase products that are difficult to travel with, too large to display or too expensive to move? Will it be used to give a behind-the-scenes or inside look at something? Understanding how you intend to use this technology will help map the development process and reduce costly changes down the road. In most cases, you will also want to connect to a real business key performance indicator.

3. Enlist support. Find a partner who specializes in AR and VR development and work with him or her to create the scope of work. Make sure you include what's required onsite in terms of support and that he or she can provide that for you at the event. Developing this technology is only half the battle; making sure you have technical support available to get it set up and ensure it stays operational is the other.

4. Understand the timelines. If you're looking to activate this kind of technology at your next event – and your next event is a few weeks away – you may want to consider a backup plan. It takes time to create these types of experiences. A lot of customers assume it comes with a quick turnaround time but right now that simply isn’t the case. While this application is rapidly developing, it's still in its infancy as far as technologies go.

All in all, remember that AR and VR are about to be as expected as a cheese plate at an event. Not everyone is employing it just yet, so take the time to hone and perfect it to make your event more memorable than the typical slideshow presentation. The experience will give your audience a better grasp of your brand, your story and your eye for the future.

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