Augmented and virtual reality has been trending in the meeting and event industry for some time now. But what is it? Is it here to stay? What's the difference between the two technologies? How can planners implement them successfully into their events? In this interview, Will Curran and Brandt Krueger will expand on episode 2 of their podcast, “Event Tech Podcast”, which focuses on augmented and virtual reality in the meeting and event industry and answer all of these questions, and more.Brand Krueger:
Influencer Series: Will Curran & Brandt Krueger on AR & VR for Event Planners
Q: Can you give a brief overview of your podcast, "Event Tech Podcast"?
Q: In episode 2 of your podcast, you talk about augmented and virtual reality for events. Can you define what augmented and virtual reality are and how they are different from one another?
Virtual reality is this idea that everyone has probably seen before, where you put a headset on and you can basically enter a real-world space. It can be as simple as Google Cardboard, which is literally a cardboard box that you put your phone in and then it allows you to look around 360 degrees. Then there’s something called room scale virtual reality, which is a piece of hardware you've probably been like an arcade, with the HTC Vive as an example, that allows you to literally walk around the room. I actually have one in this studio and literally, it is probably one of the most incredible things that you can do technology wise. Once you do the room scale VR and you can walk around in three dimensions, you can duck, you can crawl, you can jump, it's absolutely crazy.
If you don't know what VR is, I recommend checking out the movie Ready Player One. That movie is not very far off from where we are getting to today when it comes to virtual reality, but the idea is that you can essentially enter a completely virtual space. It's limited right now, primarily to games, but like all great technologies, they start in video games and eventually makes its way to the rest of the world. But augmented reality, on the other hand, is a whole other beast.
Augmented reality is literally a layering over reality. The famous example was Google Glass where you could still see through the glasses, but then layered up over the right-hand corner was a display of information that you're able to access. Pokemon Go is another example of augmented reality, where you can look through your phone and see reality, but now there's this bouncing little beastie there that you need to grab. The new Harry Potter AR game just came out, so that's going to be kind of the next big thing. Right now, augmented reality is confined to phones and tablets just because of expense, but that's slowly going to change as headsets, like Microsoft HoloLens, come down in price.
I think it is important to remember though that augmented reality doesn't just have to be visual; it could be auditory or touch as well. Right now, they’re actually working on layering a false touch over reality using sonic pulses, where users could feel like they're touching a button that's out in space, but there is no button. Anytime you're layering something over reality, that's the definition of augmented reality.
Q: In your podcast, you talk about the controversy surrounding AR and VR technology? Can you summarize this for our audience?
Q: How do you implement AV and VR tech well into your event? What are your top tips and tricks?
What I’ve realized is that not everyone understands that creating a completely custom, virtual experience is like literally building a video game and, therefore, can be very expensive. If you really want to have virtual reality at your event but there are budget concerns, I highly recommend the arcade model because it’s really cost effective. The arcade model is the idea that you can set up a couple of different stations where people can play and can experience VR. I think there are enough people out there that haven't experienced true room-scale VR, so it’s really enticing and exciting for attendees today.
Another tip is that I think you really do have to understand the technology behind VR and what goes into it before you start pitching it for your event. I highly recommend everyone find a local VR arcade that does room scale VR, or find a friend who has one. Just by experiencing it first-hand will give you a ton of education and a better understanding of how to implement VR technology into your events.
While you do have to factor in the costs, it can make for a great investment. The initial upfront costs could be quite expensive, but then the refinements from that point on are based on version one, so it's not like you're starting all the way from zero every time you want to use it at your events. Using VR can actually be cost-effective based on what you're trying to do, like when compared to shipping or attending multiple conferences, etc.
Q: What are the “do nots” of implementing AV and VR technology into your events?
Q: Do you have any other advice you’d like to give our audience on using augmented and virtual reality in their events?
Have fun with it. As with anything if it doesn't seem like it's going to be fun to do, and you don't think that you would enjoy it and find to be super cool, then your audience probably won’t either.
To Will’s point of trying it, keep trying it. Just because you tried it once in an arcade five years ago and it kind of stunk be sure to keep trying. This technology is moving super-fast. A lot of money has been recently dumped into it by the military and by private companies, and that money is going to start filtering its way down into the consumer level, making it even better.
Do you use augmented or virtual reality at your meeting or events? How do you use it? Let us know by commenting below!