Augmented Reality: How it can Help Elevate Your Events

When most people hear the term augmented reality, the first thing that likely pops into their head – if it’s not, “What’s augmented reality?” – is the game Pokémon Go. For those in the other category, augmented reality (AR) adds digital interactive elements to a real-world environment when viewed through a screen (like a smartphone or tablet) or smart glasses.

It’s been two years since Pokémon Go has burst on the scene as a global phenomenon. Over that timeframe, the popularity of the game has ebbed and flowed, but one thing that has not wavered is the developer’s commitment to improving the experience. Niantic recently introduced what the company calls AR+ into the game. Previously, in AR mode, the little monsters simply floated about in the real world; if you moved your camera, they moved with it. Now, the critters stay tethered to a flat surface and don’t move along with swings of the camera. You can even move closer to them, but they will run away if you move too fast. The developer is working on an even better mode where the AR can sense depth so Pokémon can hide behind real-world objects. 

It can be said without hesitation that AR has caught on with the public at large. A considerable number of AR games can be found in every mobile store: Apple, Android, and Google. Many of them mimic the style of Pokémon Go, like the Jurassic Park game which has you searching for dinosaurs in the wild. But not everything is about seeking creatures. In ARise, you escort a knight through a level that’s an optical illusion. You have to physically move around with your phone to make areas open up or connect so the knight can continue.  

These innovations are likely just the start of what we’re going to see game developers do with AR. But mobile games are not the only area in which this technology is being used in innovative ways.  AR is being used at trade show exhibits in exciting and innovative ways – and it’s only scratching the surface.

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Customize Products

Many products start with a generic, base version that can then be modified in a variety of ways. In the past, it has been difficult to showcase the full range of these products without an extensive series of photographs (especially if the products are big, like a motorcycle, or perishable like food), and even then, there wasn’t much chance for your visitors to engage with your products in exciting and interactive ways.

AR changes all of that. Now you can let attendees play around and build to their heart’s content. Let’s say you sell motorcycles. All you need is a single model or two in your exhibit, and your visitors can use their device to see how it would look in the real world with various modifications and add-ons.

For perishable items, you don’t even need to provide the real thing. Model makers can construct an incredibly realistic facsimile. Place some of these in interesting areas throughout your display and let the AR do the rest.

Drive Visitors to Your Exhibit

As mentioned, the first thing most people think of when it comes to AR is games. So, how could you create an AR game that ties into your product line or service? And how could this game tie into the concept of your exhibit?

Utilizing augmented reality is like any technology or marketing technique. It can either be gimmicky or innovative – it all depends on how it is used. Just having an AR game as part of your offerings is fine, but to truly make the experience feel innovative and interactive, it has to be relevant. You may be able to drum up some traffic regardless, but the more you can tie into your products and services, the more authentic and successful your campaign will be.

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Personalized Announcements

AR is all about geolocation, specific items designed to pop up when you enter a predetermined area. This can be a great way to send position-specific messaging to trade show attendees.

Whenever someone approaches your booth, you could promote any specials you’re running or freebies you’re handing out. You could also simply highlight the fact that your exhibit is nearby, and you would love a moment to talk if they are interested.

Product Placement

One of the strengths of AR – the genesis of its very name – is that it can alter your world. What you see on your screen can be very different from what is actually before your eyes. To that end, AR is the perfect tool for people who want to try out products in various settings.

Swedish furniture and housewares giant IKEA has been particularly innovative on this front. The company developed an app that lets customers virtually place IKEA products in real-world settings with 98 percent accuracy, according to the company.

This same idea could be used at your next trade show, except the product will be before the attendees, and your VR offerings will let them place it anywhere.

Showing Off

Companies with extensive product lines have always needed to pick and choose what to highlight and what to leave out of their trade show presentations. AR can give you a clever way to showcase your entire product line in a method that is more engaging than merely leaving catalogs strewn about.

Another option is to have physical catalogs where QR codes are part of an item’s description. Scanning the QR code activates some AR content. This is a great way to ensure that your catalog will be distributed to others based on its novelty.

Tips and Tricks

Make attendees fill out a brief information form as part of the set-up process. This is an easy way to gather visitor data and can be an invaluable step in your lead generation efforts.

Ensure that the AR experience you set up is user-friendly. Don’t have a complicated set-up process or potentially confusing controls that will distract from the experience or convince people the effort is not worth it, or they’ll move on.

Make sure that your booth staff is completely comfortable with the AR experience and can help attendees with any issues, from downloading the app to actually running the experiences. A good rule of thumb is to have at least one device per booth staff, so they’re ready to help.

If there is a slight wait, have someone working the crowd encouraging people to download your app before they hit your booth. This will reduce wait times and enable people to activate the experience quicker.

Again, if you expect there will be a wait to get to the experience, set up your exhibit to make this as comfortable as possible. Provide an area with soft chairs and plenty of distractions.

Keep the overall experience simple – and short, if need be. You want to make sure that everyone who wants to try it out gets an opportunity to do so. In addition, don’t make the overall experience too intense. You want people to have fun and not feel overwhelmed.

Giveaways that feature AR (like the catalog mentioned earlier) are a surefire way that your content will make it in front of more eyeballs.

Cleverly utilizing augmented reality will help you create an innovative experience and gather a crowd at your exhibit. For more thought about incorporating groundbreaking technology into your display, give Event Architecture a call at 972-323-9433.

sofia krsmanovic