What should I use, AR, VR, MR or XR?

Now that live events are being made possible, technologies such as AR, VR, MR and XR will look to make a comeback into a live environment. We thought that it would be perfect timing to re-explore each of the realities and what they are most useful for in an event, giving examples of how to use them within an event setting.

Augmented Reality (AR)

Since the days of PokemonGo, we have all had some understanding of augmented reality. AR overlays a digital item and places it into the real world using a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet. As the technology has developed over the years it now comes with additional features that include; plane detection (detecting surfaces), reacting and interacting with them as well as body and face tracking. Allowing the user to interact and customise an object or person.

When to use AR for an event:

One example would be a product launch, where the product couldn’t ordinarily be brought into the event space but could be augmentally showcased in the event space such as a car, adding features where the user can customise it to their own specifications such as paint colour, alloys, engine and so on.

This is extremely useful even if the car was within the venue, with plane detection the user with their smart device can transform the car to their specifications, bringing a new element of interactivity to your event.

AR can also be used to showcase event information to attendees as they move around an event space. By holding the camera of their mobile devices up to pre-programmed trigger symbols, various event content and key speaker information can be displayed on the screen. This increases interactivity for the delegate and can be used for such things as driving footfall to exhibitor stands.

Virtual Reality (VR)

Unlike AR, virtual reality (VR) transports its user into a different world without the knowledge of the physical world. The immersive virtual world allows the person within it to walk around, interact and be completely immersed in the virtual environment through virtual headsets and handsets, such as the Oculus Quest/ Rift or Valve Index. Think computer games but, instead of acting through a screen with a keypad or controller you are within the computer-generated world reacting and acting live to your surroundings.

When to use VR for an event:

Like any form of technology you do not want to use VR as an add-on, fad tech or afterthought, it needs to be integrated into the whole event experience. Whilst providing thousands of headsets to delegates at a large conference is impractical, it is better used in a more intimate setting for example; experiential events, product demos and VR gamification for delegates. It is also a novel way for venues to host virtual show rounds to potential clients, reducing the need for site visits, therefore offering both cost-saving and environmental advantages.

After the year we’ve all had we are sure that an in-person site visit is well overdue, but one to think about for the future.

In addition, this technology can be utilised pre-event to showcase to you how your event will look and feel and allows you to understand how space would work from both the presenter and delegate point of view.

Mixed Reality (MR)

Apologies for using the word ‘hybrid’, but it perfectly sums it up. Mixed reality uses AR/VR technology and integrates it into the real world.

It removes the boundaries between real and virtual; physical and digital objects co-exist, interacting in real-time. This means that the superimposed image interacts with the real physical world, this is made possible through technology such as Magic Leap and HoloLens.

How to use it in an event:

Used widely throughout the medical world for surgeons, engineers and large scale corporate companies as a training tool. It is great for use at an event where you want to showcase how to use a new piece of technology. The presenter can demonstrate the technology with their live viewing output being displayed to the audience within the same room, breakout rooms and/or online.

Extended Reality (XR)

XR is the umbrella term that covers all things computer-altered reality and covers off all of the above realities together under one term.

Disney’s The Mandalorian was filmed in an XR studio (these are so hot right now in the world of events). They used Game Engine, real-time render and video wall technology to create the perfect immersive backdrop for the hit TV show. XR live content and camera tracking as well as a 360-degree floor to ceiling LED wall and green screen projection, texture mapping and built-in sets worked in unison and seamlessly blended into one.

It looked incredible!

How to use it in events:

XR studios are in high demand right now in the events industry because of the increased requirement for broadcasting facilities during… well you know what. The XR technology in the broadcasting studios allows the environment to be completely immersive and interchangeable between environmental states. Allowing the presenter to interact with the content, be that augmented, virtual or mixed reality.