augmented reality events

How augmented reality events can transform customer engagement

By David Ripert

Augmented reality events experiences offer brands a way to engage customers in a novel fashion while also mitigating some of the lasting effects of the pandemic. 

Although the significant threat of COVID-19 might have passed in many countries, its impact on public behaviour is unlikely to dissipate immediately. As much as people are looking forward to experiencing major live events in person again, many of them are still cautious about handling shared objects and being in close proximity to others. 

Fortunately, technology — in the form of augmented reality (AR) — can provide a viable solution when it comes to making events, conferences, and trade shows a thrilling yet safe experience. 

Let’s look at some of the ways augmented reality events experiences can transform virtual and in-person events. 

Augmented reality events experiences bring products to customers safely

This AR "virtual try-on" lets consumers decide if this product is the right look for them.
This AR “virtual try-on” lets consumers decide if this product is the right look for them.

One of the easiest ways to get your product into the hands of consumers at a conference without requiring them to pick it up physically is with product visualisation tools that people can access on their mobile devices. 

Using AR technology, brands can create an image of their product that can be overlaid on the consumer’s face in real-time when they access a brand’s AR app. This capability, called “virtual try-on”, enables consumers to quickly see how they would look in a brand’s product, regardless of whether they’re at a booth in a physical store or browsing online.

As a result, AR-powered virtual try-ons are ideal for promoting products at events and product launches. For high involvement products (such as makeup), virtual try-on lets people try on products without having to touch them and is already a “must-have” for many beauty brands.

Alternatively, brands can build AR apps that let people place a brand’s product directly in their environment. Customers can then move the product around, inspect it from all sides, and even interact with it through their devices. For example, IKEA’s AR app allows users to visualise realistically rendered and true-to-scale furniture in their own space. Using this kind of 3D product visualisation, consumers can readily imagine how the product would fit into their lives.

Image trackers at events make information more accessible

augmented reality events
Scanning image trackers is an exciting way to discover more product information.

Image trackers are an exciting way to increase the amount of product information available to consumers at a brand’s booth while keeping attendees engaged and safely distanced. 

Rather than having people pick up pamphlets or printed documents, brands can embed image trackers — images that an AR experience can recognise — into their event banners. Attendees can then scan the image trackers on the banner to see additional information overlaying the image that is not visible to the naked eye.

Brands can use image trackers as practical promotional tools, too. For example, augmenting flyers (and encouraging viewers to scan them) can help a brand stand out from the crowd while at the same time providing additional information to potential customers.

AR navigation experiences help attendees get around events

augmented reality events
AR maps can help attendees navigate better through conferences and trade shows.

Some conferences and trade shows can be so large they can result in attendees feeling overwhelmed or like they’re missing out. One of the benefits of an AR app for brands is the potential for providing users with an interactive AR map.

For example, at a conference, an AR map can display hotspots that users can tap on to view current and upcoming speeches, announcements, or performances. It can also provide dynamic directions via an on-screen arrow from the user’s location, making navigation a breeze.  

AR games at events can turbocharge engagement

augmented reality events
AR games like these are a safe way to keep attendees engaged at events.

When it comes to safely engaging attendees, nothing compares to offering AR games that keep them actively exploring and looking at booths. 

As an example, brands could encourage attendees to participate in map-based AR gaming using tools such as Niantic’s Lightship, which replicates the Pokemon Go experience but lets brands tailor it to individual events. As a result, users could see anything a brand chooses superimposed on the floor, in any particular location. 

WebAR holograms and virtual showroom technology bring events to the next level

augmented reality events
WebAR holograms can bring events to customers wherever they are.

Thanks to AR, people no longer have to leave their homes to attend an event, launch, or conference. Today, brands can leverage AR technology to bring an event directly to their customers, regardless of where in the world they may be. 

For example, WebAR holograms allow brands to transport the conference stage and speakers directly to their customers’ homes, whereas virtual showroom technology makes it easy for brands to replicate a conference on a customer’s desktop or mobile. Users can even “walk around” the conference and visit booths and brands virtually.

Brands can also use AR to enhance their livestreams and on-demand videos. As a consolation for holding its annual I/O developer conference virtually earlier this year, Google created the Google I/O Photo Booth, a web app that allowed attendees to add AR brand mascots to their camera view before taking a photo with them. Brands interested in replicating this experience could take this a step further by offering a chance to win a prize to people who upload their AR selfies to social media with an appropriate hashtag.  

The Google I/O Photo Booth would have worked nicely for a physical event, as well. Ultimately, brands need to adopt the mentality that conferences and events should merge the physical with the digital. 

Final thoughts

While the COVID-19 pandemic has seen countless in-person conferences and product promotion events postponed or indefinitely cancelled, rapid progress in vaccination campaigns now makes in-person events a near-future possibility. 

Nonetheless, not everyone may be comfortable with attending a physical event just yet. For people who don’t want to or can’t participate in in-person events but still want to engage and connect with the brand, AR can prove invaluable. At the same time, technologies like AR allow businesses to add another layer to their in-person offering and make returning to in-person events an even safer, more engaging, and memorable experience.

There are many avenues to consider when adopting augmented reality events experiences. Not sure where to start? The team at Poplar Studio can walk you through all the different options available and help you choose one that will suit your brand’s event the best. Ready to get started? Contact us today. 

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