Event Technology of the Month: Virtual Reality

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Virtual reality is one of the biggest buzz words in event technology for 2016 and it’s already hitting the mainstream. A range of different developers have been working on creating headsets and the race is on to see who will become the most recognisable brand.

So what does this new technology offer and should #EventProfs be paying attention?

What is it?

Virtual reality (VR) first made an appearance back in the 90s but poor quality and lack of innovation meant it was a bit of a non-starter. Today, with improved graphics and quality, VR is looking set to revolutionise video games, experiential events, travel marketing and much, much more (including porn, but that’s another story).

The idea behind virtual reality is that technology can trick your brain into really believing that you’re having an experience. Rather than standing in your bedroom with a mask on your head, VR developers claim that they can make you feel like you’re standing on the surface of Mars, driving a car or floating through the sky. The possibilities are endless and the onus will be on brands and creators to come with new and interesting ideas to keep pushing it to the next level.

Virtual reality headsets require a PC, console or smartphone to run the app or game. A head mounted display (a headset) to play the image in front of your eyes, excluding all other images to provide total immersion in the world of the video. VR offers 360degree views and head tracking technology so whichever way you move your head, you’re able to look around inside the video as if you were inside the experience.

Marketers and event managers are paying attention and there have already been a number of mind blowing virtual reality experiences on offer, many of them at live at events.

What do delegates get?

At this point virtual reality is still somewhat of a novelty, so delegates are still excited to have an opportunity to sample the latest technology and give it a go for themselves.

The expectation is that within a few years the technology will become commonplace and event organisers will have to find new and inventive ways to create engaging content. In the long run, delegates may well use VR in the same way they may watch a video at an event now. It’s likely to be used for fun and entertainment as well as to provide more information and a chance to experience something new for yourself.

There’s no doubt that VR is big event tech news. UK Events Week even added a virtual and augmented reality evening to their calendar in March and The Event Technology Awards committee also announced a new category for 2016: Best Augmented / Virtual Reality Technology.

What do #EventProfs get?

A chance to tell their story better. Whatever the story you’re telling at a particular event, AR will allow you to tell it more clearly and will provide another medium to bring your experiences to life. Whether you want to help delegates imagine being in a certain place, show them a new product in action or simply entertain them with some powerful video content, VR is an extra piece of technology to add to your toolkit. Virtual reality headsets help events become more interactive and more immersive, which is always a good thing.

For brand events and experiential events, VR is one of the most powerful tools yet to help capture the attention of visitors and immerse them in the world you create for them.

The Noodle Insight

We already have a growing internet of things. A recent Cisco survey found that these days more things are connected to the internet than people. In 2010 there were 12.5 million devices connecting to the internet. By 2020 there are expected to be 50 billion. Virtual Reality is another connected device to help make the world feel a little smaller and more accessible.

It you want to sell someone a holiday, now you can show them exactly how it would feel to watch the sun setting from the balcony of their luxury suite. If you’re hosting a live music event, now you can sell thousands of extra tickets to fans around the world who can watch on a VR headset.

Virtual Reality is a great addition to the event technology landscape, but don’t get carried away. Like all event tech, VR should only be used if it helps to contribute to the goals you have set for the event. Always start with your goals and then choose a tech package that helps you get there. Incorporating virtual reality because it’s new and exciting just won’t cut it and will pretty quickly bore your guests and dilute your message. Also, don’t forget that VR requires strong internet connection. If you are already stretching your bandwidth too far then it may be a luxury you could do without.

Can it be used with Noodle Tech?

Yes, to an extent. We can help you to incorporate VR technology into your plans and ensure that you have enough internet connectivity to make it run. However, at the moment there are no clear opportunities for VR to integrate with other parts of your essential tech such as mobile event apps or NFIC wrist bands. VR has yet to prove that it can make your life easier or pull its weight when it comes to utility. At the moment it’s all about fun and entertainment.

Noodle’s event technology packages have a clear focus on helping #EventProfs to get the job done and to make the most of each event by gathering useful data, improving the experience for delegates and solving common, every day issues such as registration times. VR still has a lot to do to prove that it’s indispensible in a busy event environment.