The Potential of Virtual Reality at Events

March 15 2016

Recently, I attended an event where virtual reality stations were set up. At these stations, you could try out and jump into the world of virtual reality, teleporting yourself to new worlds and new experiences. The experience was incredible and unique, and left you amazed at all the possibilities virtual reality brings to the entertainment industry.

During one of these virtual experiences, workers placed sensors on your ankles, your wrists, and even fitted you with a backpack meant to detect your movement so it could be accurately displayed in virtual reality. Once you put on the goggles, you were instantly teleported to a new world. When you walked, your character in the virtual reality world walked, and when you moved your arms, they followed as if they were your own. 

The entire experience was mesmerizing, and my eyes, as well as my friends, were opened to the possibilities that virtual reality presents for the future of entertainment. 

We imagined how virtual reality could be incorporated in movies and video games, making them completely first-person interactive, or how virtual reality could change long-established games such as laser tag by inserting you into a new world every time you play. Our minds were wrapped up in the idea of what virtual reality means for the future, and how well it will be adopted. 

But what didn’t cross our minds at the time was the implementation of virtual reality into the event space. When you think of virtual reality, most people think of how it can be used in video games, TV, and movies - a natural fit. Yet, there is a real opportunity for events to seize the moment and make virtual reality a part of their event. 

In fact, the integration of virtual reality at events is already starting to happen. My first interaction with virtual reality didn’t happen at a movie theater - it happened at a live event. And while it wasn’t the main act at the event, it was there to bolster the event and make it more engaging and more enjoyable. I left with a better experience at the event because of virtual reality, than I would have had I not had the chance to use it. Other events could, and should start incorporating virtual reality into their events to make them stand out from other events. Here are three ways virtual reality can be used to improve events. 

Similarly, other events could take the technology to help enhance their event and drive attendee engagement. Here are three ways virtual reality can be used to improve events.

 

1. Attendee engagement. 

Right now, virtual reality is new and exciting. It’s a shiny new toy that most people haven’t been exposed to yet. By bringing in virtual reality demonstrations or exhibits, your attendees will get a completely new experience that they haven’t experienced anywhere else. These exhibits could happen at any variety of events from conferences and comic-cons, to music and film festivals. By acting now and dedicating a room to virtual reality, you can get more people engaged at your event. 

 

Virtual Reality at EventsImage via Be Core Experiential Marketing

 

Often times at events, there is a lot of sitting, watching, and listening, with very little time for participating. Virtual reality can eliminate that, if even for 15 minutes, by getting attendees engaged in an attendee-friendly technology. Instead of sitting and watching, attendees have to opportunity to plug themselves into the virtual reality experience, which will leave them feeling like they did more at your event. 

Virtual reality doesn’t have to be the centerpiece of your event, but it is definitely an exciting feature you can bring to your event to help attendees actively participate. The virtual reality station was such a hit at the event I went to, that the wait time to have a turn was 3-4 hours. The volunteers running the station would have you sign up, and then you would get a text message when it was your turn to go. Sure enough, nearly everybody returned to take their turn because they were excited to try it - and everybody I talked to that tried it absolutely loved it. 

To improve attendee engagement at your event, try implementing a virtual reality station. 

 

2. Makes old seem new again. 

If you haven’t heard yet, Six Flags, the giant amusement park, recently opened up The New Revolution at Dare Devil Dive, a roller coaster where riders wear virtual reality headsets to transport them into a world that mimics the movements of the real roller coaster. Not only do you get the normal thrill of riding the twisting and turning coaster, but you get to experience an entirely new visual aspect as well, as opposed to seeing the metal rails in front of you. During the ride, you see yourself flying through a city, trying to escape an alien envasion. The mix of reality with virtual reality is perfect in this case, and makes the roller coaster experience seem brand new. 

 

This same application of virtual reality can be implemented at any type of live event. Imagine a music festival, where attendees wear virtual reality headsets that display video that matches the music being performed. 

While widespread use of virtual reality at events is a ways away, the possibilities it brings forth are tremendous. Imagine how virtual reality could change a corn maze into an entirely new experience. Attendees would still walk through the maze with their virtual reality headsets on, but could end up in an enchanted forest, a labyrinth, or a spooky town. Virtual reality has the potential to take traditional events and make them new again. 

 

3. Provides new possibilities.  

Many event makers have not taken advantage of new technologies at their events, not because they don’t want to, but because the application of new technology can pose challenging to work into the fibers of the event. In this regard, virtual reality is one of the easiest technologies to incorporate into an event because it can mix human experience with virtual experience. Virtual reality seems like a natural fit to mix with events. 

 

Image via Trend Hunter Tech

 

Virtual reality can temporarily transport your attendees to a magical world, all while they are experiencing the attractions at your event. Imagine you run a Comic-Con, and you have a room set-up for virtual reality tours and adventures that take place in the worlds created in comic books and movies. Not only will your attendees get to meet their favorite characters from these shows in person, but they will get to be a part of their favorite fictional worlds made possible by virtual reality. 

 

Virtual reality presents a real opportunities to enhance live events. While it may not be conducive to every type of event, virtual reality can certainly have a place at many types of events. Virtual reality can increase attendee engagement, improve attendee experience, make old things seem new again, and leave your attendees feeling like they had a once-in-a-lifetime experience at your event.