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Competing realities: virtual v augmented

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Related topics: Meetings technology

This article was originally featured in the October edition of Association Meetings International magazine. It has been republished here with the publisher's full permission.

The twisting of reality is becoming common practice in the meetings industry, writes Corbin Ball. By using an ever-evolving array of technology such as virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality, users can enter worlds created from scratch to entertain, inform and sell. But how ‘realistic’ is the implementation of this technology? What is each good at doing – and not so good at doing?

Virtual Reality (VR)

VR is the use of computer technology to create a simulated environment. Instead of viewing a screen in front of them, users are immersed and able to interact with 3D worlds.

VR Pros:

  • When done properly, VR can be an incredibly engaging sensory ride. Using computer-generated imagery (CGI), there are no limits aside from money and imagination to create other worlds or to demonstrate products or spaces in novel and interesting ways. VR is the closest technology we have to the Star Trek holodeck and it will continue to improve rapidly in the next few years.

VR Cons:

  • VR is fragmented market. Headset pricing ranges from about $15 (Google Cardboard using a smart phone) to $1,500 (HTC Vive Pro), with much between. VR standards are early in the adoption stage and content created for one platform usually will not work with another.
  • VR is a new medium. Content creation tends to be custom built and expensive. Best practice for effective and engaging content creation is still being worked out.
  • VR is often an isolating, individual experience. This is the opposite of events where one of the main goals is to bring people together live in a group.
  • VR is slow for demos. It takes time to sanitize the headset, to put on/adjust the headset, explain the controls, and for the user to view the content. Even if the content is only two to three minutes, an exhibitor would be lucky to get 15-20 people per hour through the system.

What is it good for?

  • Site inspections, demos, booth and stage set design, 3D room diagrams.

Read the full story on to learn more about AR and mixed reality.

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