You can’t skip a day without coming across these two words: Virtual Reality (VR). It’s in the press, creeping up facebook feeds, being shouted across pubs, and whispered across pillow cases. But is virtual reality just a marketing fad, just how Google glasses were a few years ago?
Like with all event technology, we’re quick to immerse ourselves with new gadgets and gizmos, but the tech means nothing unless 1) there is a purpose 2) work as they’re expected to work and 3) make sense to apply at events (logistically and practically).
With VR, you can get caught up in all the jargon before you even put a headset on… just with the various names of headsets available… Google Cardboard, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and so on… Don’t let that put you off… We think of it in two streams… ALQ (Affordable, Low Quality) or EBQ (Expensive, Better Quality).
Those under the affordable mark are your mobile device headsets where you can sit your mobile device into fish lense glasses. The pros are they are readily available, affordable (£15+) and accessible to all. The cons are, the experience is limited to the quality of the video and sound on your mobile display.
What we consider as better quality options are that they are connected to a hard drive which can process video and games at a higher resolution and speed, giving the sense that the user is viewing another dimension in real-time. With that is the possibility of integrating 360 surround sound, which gives the added sound dimension which we experience in real-life.
But what does all this matter?
Going back to the 3 reasons above- Purpose, Application, Expectation, let’s explore this further.
What other better reason than to entertain? VR has the ability to transport anyone to another world whether familiar, foreign or the outright imaginative. You can even have motion sickness if you are riding a roller coaster simulator! Sometimes there doesn’t have be any reason than to make people smile.
It’s taken almost a decade for VR to become practical and affordable to the masses. It used to be that you had to be strapped into a PC with an expensive kit to watch a virtual world in poor video quality. Not anymore! Thankfully, with all the numbers of options to experience VR (as stated above) there are various levels VR can be experienced.
There are various ways you can apply VR at events, below we explore VR as a networking activity, for exhibitions and general session.
One of the most practical applications of VR at events is to use it as an interactive activity during networking breaks. It’s a welcome distraction if your delegates cannot muster another caffeine kick. It’s also a great talking point for your delegates- not only will they praise your event for giving them the chance to try it, but as soon as they’re finished they’ll leave with a smile, wanting others to give it a go. The beauty of VR games these days is that they come a-plenty, and we are able to allow the delegate to choose which experience they want to play. These games/experiences can last up to 2 minutes at a time, making the game experience short but sweet.
For exhibitors, VR is a great tool to showcase products. We have seen clients show at an exhibition how a product works by taking their clients into the product, virtually. By doing so, clients can see the nuts and bolts of the product, the design and the interactivity before they’ve even touched the real thing. The beauty of this is if you have a client who specialises in large-scale production or a service which is based remotely, they can bring a piece of this to the client.
VR is so advanced now that it is possible to integrate it into general sessions. If you have a speaker who has a hectic schedule or is unable to travel, we can now record them in 360 in advance to be enjoyed be all your delegates.
Alternatively, your speakers can use VR as an aid in their presentation. They will be able to transport your guests to another location, the inside of a venue, to a live archaeological site, or eagle-eye view of a landmark to see a space from above.
But that’s just scratching the surface! VR can almost be as good as enhanced real life. Such as a zombie or alien experience set against real walled parameters, such as http://virtuallydead.co.uk/ or https://thevoid.com/. It is possible to create event scenarios that are almost so real-life you are transporting yourself mentally and physically into another life-like world. And that is where we get super excited!
But we could talk about VR all day, because it’s such an exciting space that is constantly developing and with a lot of financial backing and interest thanks to Facebook acquiring Oculus Rift and other big players investing heavily as well. All we can say is, watch this space… and as for virtual reality being a waste of time… having tried and tested it ourselves, we can safely say it is not.
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