November 19, 2019
By Cvent

There is no question that Augmented Reality (AR) is one of the hottest topics in the technology industry right now and for a good reason. The new technology has a huge impact on almost every industry and brands are going all-in with experimenting with mobile AR to increase brand engagement.

Events, conferences, and meetings are a perfect conduit for experimentation with augmented reality. Events bring a unique opportunity to integrate the digital and physical worlds for attendees. 

So, what exactly is AR? Buckle up as we take a look at the details of this new technology on the rise at events.

What is Augmented Reality (AR)

Augmented reality simply means adding something extra to the real-world using technology. It can be through a mobile app, AR computer generated graphics or wearable smart glasses. With augmented reality, as the viewer, you are not fully immersed in a new world. Visualizations interact with the physical spaces around you, and you can interact with those digital experiences.

Physical Reality vs Augmented Reality vs Virtual Reality

Image Source: Optera Blog

AR is categorized in the same group as VR but the technologies are quite different. AR combines GPS and mobile phone camera technology to project information and images onto the real world. Virtual Reality (VR) on the other hand transports the user into a completely virtual world.

Augmented Reality hit the headlines in 2016 when Pokemon Go was in its rise to popularity. It offered a real-time experience and adventure to search for a monster collection in caves or local parks. Since then, AR has become more commercially available in other industries such as the events sector to explore the powerful and imaginative ways of using these new technologies to increase engagement among attendees.

Impact of AR on Meetings and Events

Apple's recent launch of the next generation of phones, such as the iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X, is a huge step towards the adoption of AR technology. Each set contains Apple's ARKit, a free iOS 11 software that allows developers to create augmented reality apps that provide a real word experience through digital objects.

A similar technology called ARcore by Google has completely transformed the way we see AR, and it's set to become part of our lives as well. 

At events AR can create a real-life experience and allow every user in the room to experience the same and see the similar images, making it perfect for boosting engagement. The event industry is embracing this advanced technology to shape and change the way we interact, attend, and market our businesses at events. 

Four ways we see organizers using AR now and in the future:

1. Allowing Attendees to Interact and Connect

The benefit of effective networking for an event is understood by every event facilitator. AR can make the experience better by bringing attendees together. Imagine this: what if you had a way to present professional information about each attendee right next to them or above their head? Or displaying topics that each person may be interested in discussing? Well, this may be possible soon with AR! For us forward-thinkers of event technology, that is pretty exciting.

2. Gamify Experiences

With increased demand for event technology, event gamification has also become a new focus. You can make your conference a bit more fun by gamifying it with leaderboards, facilitated games, and networking opportunities.  AR bring a whole new creative avenue to the interactive possibilities at events.  Organizers can take attendees on digital scavenger hunts, or set up friendly competition stations for attendees to face-off in a augmented reality gaming experience.  The technology is out there already, it's just a matter of making it scalable for all event organizers.

3. Organize Virtual Tours for Your Attendees

Augmented Reality may soon provide organizers with a way to give attendees virtual tours, or set-up virtual tour guides at their venue. It’s a concept that has been developed in various ways already, but we foresee even more sophistication and innovation evolving here and in affordable ways. Instead of paying for directional signage, and staff to help manage crowds -- soon we may see the rise in augmented reality to solve for venue mapping solutions.

4. Showcase your Products in Action

Hosting trade shows may require a large space to accommodate all the products; especially if those products are large ones. This comes with a high-cost of renting a venue space to accommodate such an event.  But, what if you could bring a variety of large products into one space virtually?  Imagine a car "viewing" station where you can select which car you'd like to view and get a 360, life-size view. Or imagine seeing manufacturing equipment full-size, in action right at your event booths or demonstration rooms. These technologies will allow the attendees to engage with the products and services like they've never been able to before.

The Future of AR and VR

Since it's an interactive channel, it is becoming easy to imagine the use cases for augmented reality at events.  It will be interesting to see the trend develop and the technology become more readily available to the market at large. Using these technologies is a chance for sponsors, event managers, and any other tech enthusiast to add value, and create buzz around their event.

With that, the future of engagement at events is absolutely unimaginable!



Cvent is a leading meetings, events, and hospitality technology provider with more than 4,500 employees and nearly 21,000 customers worldwide.

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