Augmented Reality: It’s Not Just For Pokémon Anymore
For many, their first exposure to the concept of augmented reality probably came from a fairly unlikely source: video games. In just one short year since its release, “Pokémon Go” already been downloaded 750 million times. It sports 65 million monthly active users and generated a massive $950 million in pure revenue in 2016 alone. It was so popular that augmented reality seemed poised to become the “next big thing” in nearly all industries, essentially overnight.
Though the luster of “Pokémon Go” may be wearing off, it's hard to argue with the fact that augmented reality as a concept is here to stay. It's perfect for trade show professionals in particular for a number of compelling reasons.
It's About the Immersion Factor
The true power behind augmented reality in a trade show environment isn't the idea that you're making something appear “out of thin air” in front of attendees. It has to do with how you're using technology to create a more informative, more rewarding and ultimately more immersive experience than ever before.
Users can use a smartphone app to scan a model of a product at your booth and instantly see live product information. They can interact with digital models in a way that they never could with physical ones.
Let's say your company sells kitchen products and appliances. Instead of trying to ship everything to an event and back again, you could simply set up a model of an empty kitchen and allow people to “fill it” virtually with whatever they want via augmented reality. They could see how products look and feel in a real environment and even rearrange things to make it seem like they're more at home. This is something that you would never be able to do with a more traditional display.
Turn the Tables on Smartphones
Augmented reality is also a critical weapon in the arsenal of any event marketer because it helps to address one of the most significant challenges of the modern era: smartphones. People already have their faces buried in their smartphone screens at essentially all times. It was hard to compete for attention before amongst all of your competitors at the same event, now you’re competing with the entire Internet as well.
By creating a compelling, enriching augmented reality experience with the right smartphone-compatible app, you're basically turning the tables. You're using what was once a major distraction to focus attention back in your direction where it belongs.
You could even use augmented reality to essentially turn the entire venue into your display, breaking down the barriers of your physical booth forever. You can place geo-located symbols or beacons throughout various locations both inside and outside of the venue. Someone who is able to see them (or “collect them all,” to steal a phrase from “Pokémon Go”) can then return to your booth for a reward.
Regardless of how you use it, technologies like augmented reality ultimately feed back into what is the primary goal of a trade show in the first place: to create a rewarding experience for attendees and to make the strongest first impression that you can, no exceptions.