Event Planners' New Dilemma: Augmented Reality or Virtual Reality or Both?

Event Planners' New Dilemma: Augmented Reality or Virtual Reality or Both?

Technology is improving at a rapid pace, as many things are possible today that were not possible a decade ago. Today, some of those things perceived as impossible are rising to the occasion in the form of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality which affect many areas including event business. When we look around, we easily see that, both Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality have reached a point that we can no longer ignore them. Even if they were both outspoken these days, many has no clear idea about them yet. But what are they exactly? Let's find out.

Are VR and AR the Same Thing?

No they are not. While VR completely immerses the user in a simulated reality, AR blends the virtual and real. Like VR, an AR experience typically involves some sort of goggles through which you can view a physical reality whose elements are augmented or supplemented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. In augmented reality, the real and the non-real or virtual can be easily told apart.

Both technologies enrich the experience of a user by offering deeper layers of interactions and they have the potential to transform how people engage with technology. Entertainment, engineering or medicine are just a couple of sectors where the two technologies might have a lasting impact. However, these two new tech stand apart because:

  • - Virtual reality creates a completely new environment which is completely computer generated. Augmented reality, on the other hand, enhances experiences through digital means that offer a new layer of interaction with reality, but does not seek to replace it.
  • - AR offers a limited field of view, while VR is totally immersive.
  • - Another way to look at it is once you strap those VR goggles, you're essentially disconnected from the outside world. Unlike VR, an AR user is constantly aware of the physical surroundings while actively engaged with simulated ones.
  • - Virtual reality typically requires a headed mount such as the Oculus Rift goggles while augmented reality is far less demanding — you just need a smartphone or a tablet.

- Augmented Reality (AR)

AR is defined as "an enhanced version of reality created by the use of technology to add digital information on an image of something. It is the blending of VR and real life, as developers can create images within applications that blend in with contents in the real world. With AR, users are able to interact with virtual contents in the real world, and are able to distinguish between the two.

How to Use AR at Events?

- Wearable AR

Microsoft's HoloLens may be the best-known headset for augmented reality. Unlike virtual-reality headsets such as Oculus Rift, with an augmented-reality headset the user can still see his real environment, but virtual elements are visible too.

- Device-based AR

In this model, a tablet or smartphone becomes the window into an augmented view of the user's surroundings.

- Mirror AR

This option allows a person to see a reflection of himself with additional imagery or content layered on top of it. The most common uses to date have been for retail and consumer environments. "At an event, this type of AR can be done on a giant screen so in that case it becomes a bit of theater. It draws people in. Mirror AR is the best option to create "surprise and delight" moments for guests, for example by showing an animated character walking next to them as they pass the mirror. Photo technology also can be incorporated into the mirror so guests can save and share a snapshot of their augmented image.

- Transparent AR

Actually, this is the newest way to use augmented reality. A transparent LED or newer OLED display is used as a window into a three-dimensional, virtual environment. One of the benefits of this is that it can be used for large group demonstrations, for example at a trade show. "What we're pitching is, for example, if a company wants to put a large medical device in their booth, now we can do that with window AR. There's no need to put an expensive headset on, and a group of people can watch someone move, demo, and touch a product. And then it can be cleared and a new product can be put in the display.

- Virtual Reality (VR)

VR is defined as "the use of computer technology to create a simulated environment." When you view VR, you are viewing a completely different reality than the one in front of you. VR may be artificial, such as an animated scene, or an actual place that has been photographed and included in a virtual reality app. With VR, you can move around and look in every direction -- up, down, sideways and behind you, as if you were physically there.

How To Use VR at Events?

- Product Demonstration

Product demonstrations are a huge part of trade shows. Imagine using virtual reality headsets as a way to give booth visitors an interactive demonstration of your products without even needing them there.

- Engagement with attendees by using VR gamification

VR software and image recognition technology makes it easy to create simple games at your events. Simply place virtual clues around your booth and allow attendees to interact with objects to find more clues and win prizes.

- Executing site surveys

Imagine being able to physically walk through an event space while moving through your office building. Sounds cool, right? You can also bring this experience to your shows and allow guests to walk through custom designed environments or even obstacle courses!

- 360 degree virtual meetings

With VR, remote attendees can direct their experience as if they were really present during an event. Advanced 360-degree cameras and perspective mean it's possible for them to see others in the room as if they were right there alongside them.

- Attend shows as a robotic, VR attendee

While many believe there is nothing more powerful than in-person interactions and meetings, this is a great opportunity to bring the complete attendee experience to those who are unable to travel.


In fact, augmented and virtual realities both leverage some of the same types of technology, and they each exist to serve the user with an enhanced or enriched experience. Both technologies enable experiences that are becoming more commonly expected and sought after for event management purposes nowadays. On the other hand, many people believe that both of these new technologies require some more developments yet to be more convenient, effective and user freindly.