I like to sit back and think about the future. What will it look like? How will we get there? It’s exciting to think that at the pace technology advances the future is never really that far away. It was on one of my routine deep dives into Youtube that I came across a video on augmented reality. I forgot the video, but the ideas I had for opportunities an unforgettable event experience stayed with me.
So join me, if you will, on a brief walk into the future events. But first, let’s start at the beginning.
What is augmented reality(AR)?
I’m sure some of you are asking this very question. Simply put, AR shows the user a live view of the real-world that is supported (or augmented) by computer-generated information in the form of graphics, video, and data. The world is made interactive in a sense, with the ability to see important information about the environment in real-time.
It may be surprising to hear, but AR actually has quite a long history, the first system was introduced in 1968, and now we’re at a point where it’s becoming increasingly available to consumers. In fact, I’m pretty confident most of us have already seen uses of augmented reality.
Augmented reality today
It was the summer of 2016, and a frenzy swept through the world. Teens and adults worldwide were scrambling across their cities, while staring at their phones. This would seem like any other day in today’s age, at least until they erupted in cheers and showed off the new Pokemon they just caught. The Pokemon Go craze got more people outside and offered an opportunity for businesses to cash in. It also stands out as one of the most highly publicized uses of AR in recent years.
However, there’s another common example of the augmented reality that you’ve definitely seen if you happened to have watched the Olympics or a football game in the last 20 years or so. Have you ever noticed that yellow line swimmers chase during the race or the yellow first down line during a football game? You guessed it, both are examples of augmented reality.
There are several other examples of current applications of AR, but I just wanted to highlight a few before getting into its potential to enhance the event experience.
Augmented reality and events
Maybe by now you’ve already thought of some opportunities for AR to create an unforgettable experience for your event attendees. Here are a few areas in event management that I’ve identified where augmented reality can create a better experience for both attendees and event staff with only a phone or a tablet required:
Imagine being able to show attendees important information for the event (like where the bathrooms are), or enabling vendors to display key information to attendees as they browse through the booths. Attendees get a quick glimpse of what each exhibitor is offering, and exhibitors can be confident that visitors to their booth are interested in what they’re offering.
With AR, attendees could simply hold up their device to see all of the information needed to make the day(s) of the event as smooth as possible.
People change their minds all the time. Providing your attendees the flexibility to customize their experience will make your event memorable. What if, again by holding a phone or tablet to the entrance of a breakout session, an attendee could sign-up, or check-in!
And finally, AR has the potential to change the game in terms of venue selection and layouts. It’s important to have the right amount of space for your event's attendees. A venue that’s too big means the event seems emptier than it is and you probably could have saved more money by selecting a smaller space. A venue that’s too small hurts the attendee experience due to cramped space. AR could be used to quickly analyze potential venues, based on the number of attendees, and provide the event team with an optimal layout. Event teams could also look through a tablet and move tables, signage, etc. to get a preview of the venue like never before!
There are even greater potential applications for AR in events than those I’ve covered here. If you’re head of events at your organization and you only take away one truth from this article I hope it’s this: AR being used in events is a matter of when not if.
I’d love to know your thoughts on this. Are you as excited for augmented reality to be ready to use for events as I am?