Virtual and augmented reality are two of the hottest trends in event tech for 2017. In fact, with the launch of more accessible and affordable devices from the likes of Google, Samsung, Sony, Oculus, HTC and Microsoft in recent months, altered realities have become one of the most fast paced emerging technologies in our industry today.

We’ve seen some incredible applications of demos, videos and experiences that help brands differentiate themselves at exhibitions and conference-style events. At the recent Event Tech Live show in London, the exhibitors that offered interactive experiences were the ones that attracted the most people to their booths – from Noonah’s virtual mirror to a robot on the Festyvent stand that interacted with delegates and even sang songs. In the same way, virtual and augmented reality technologies are helping brands stand out and bring something a little different to the event experience.

Here are five great examples of how virtual and augmented reality have been used to attract crowds and create unique experiences at events:

Coachella Music Festival Virtual Reality App

US music festival Coachella recognised the growing appeal of VR this year by launching a new app and shipping Google Cardboard headsets to attendees alongside their tickets. Debuting ahead of the event, the Coachella VR app was designed to let Cardboard VR, Gear VR, Oculus and Vive owners browse through 360 degree photos from previous festivals and watch interviews from this year’s line-up of artists. 3D virtual tours of the festival grounds let fans familiarise themselves with the layout before they even left the house.

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AHS Fearless Virtual Reality Experience at San Diego Comic-Con

The annual comic book convention in southern California attracts more than 130,000 people each year with hundreds of media companies competing for the attention of fans. This year’s Comic-Con saw many exhibitors turning to VR to promote their movies and TV shows. One experience that particularly stood out was FX Network’s VR journey inspired by American Horror Story (AHS). A purpose-built dome was created outside the convention centre where a psychological immersive experience took participants into the AHS universe.

Upon entering the dome, attendees were met by hosts in white lab coats while calming music played overhead. A series of ‘beds’ were positioned in a pentagon where they were asked to lie down, a sheet placed over them then a HTC Vive headset and headphones were fitted. The experience exploited common phobias such as clowns, vertigo and claustrophobia, and introduced the frightening characters and locations from across the multiple AHS series in a 5-minute video.

By adding group psychology tactics to cutting edge VR technology and some classic theatre trickery,  FX was able to create a more intimate experience. Blurring the lines between reality and fiction resulted in a truly memorable experience for participants with some hardened horror enthusiasts describing it as “absolutely terrifying”.

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Cambridge Yourself Augmented Reality Booth by Noonah Experiential

Noonah Experential partnered with Cambridge University Press to create a fun experience that promoted the publishing business as a digital provider and not just print. Using an AR photo booth, delegates at the event used gestures to take their own photo and appear inside Cambridge University (with real-time video content) without the need for a green screen.

Noonah constructed a triangular structure that would fit onto the corner of the stand with additional viewing monitor to attract other passing delegates. Each visitor to the stand could choose to punt down the river in Cambridge or visit Kings College with each delegate receiving a printed copy of their photo inside a branded photo wallet.

The Cambridge Yourself photo both resulted in more delegates being drawn to the stand as well as increased data collection. Users were impressed by the digital technology allowing the conversation to link seamlessly into Cambridge University Press’ digital products. Noonah also plans to add social sharing to the AR Photo Booth’s features.

Radiant Event Technology’s Virtuacast Augmented Reality Experience

Radiant Event Technology’s Virtuacast was runner-up for the Best Augmented / Virtual Reality Technology Award at the Event Tech Awards. The company has been working with NBA Properties to bring its Virtuacast technology to fans, giving them the opportunity to interact with virtual versions of some of basketball’s biggest stars.

Using pre-recorded video and photo content, Virtuacast marries digital with live interactions in augmented reality. The technology creates the illusion of life size holograms that attendees can see and interact with, then share the resulting video or photo online or via social media. The system consists of a special mat that is set on the floor and an accompanying mobile app. The hologram appears wherever the mat is placed in view of a mobile device’s camera.

As the Virtuacast system just consists of the mat and an app, being a flexible, mobile and lightweight set-up is an ideal tool for consumer engagement at all types of events.

Boursin Sensorium VR Experience by Because Experiential Marketing

Another runner-up for the Best Augmented / Virtual Reality Technology Award at the Event Tech Awards. French cheese brand Boursin wanted to reach a wider, younger audience, and do something unexpected for a brand in a category filled with ‘me-too’ sales promotions. It teamed up with Because Experiential Marketing to create The Boursin Sensorium which toured key food events, combining a VR experience with live sensory engagement to immerse consumers in different flavours.

Using Oculus Rift headsets, consumers were taken inside virtual fridges to experience the best ingredients up close, while tasting various Boursin samples. Personalised videos of their experience were emailed to participants to share on social networks. The campaign resulted in an increased social reach of 5 million, 80k+ video views and 4,800 VR experiences.

Boursin Sensorium VR Experience by Because Experiential Marketing

To read more about what’s hot from Event Tech Live, see 6 Technology Trends from Experts at Europe’s Largest Event Tech Show. You can also watch our video on data integration from ETL at Event Tech Live 2016 – Do More With Your Event Data.

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