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From AR to XR : A crib sheet for event professionals

Over the last two years extended reality has provided a way for event planners to transform remote events into visual spectacles – elevating online sessions into engaging productions by providing dynamic environments and interactive content. Although live events have now returned, when it comes to events like award shows and launches, there’s still a big appetite for broadcast-style events incorporating these different ‘realities.’

With terminology that originates from the gaming and film industries, it can be tricky for event professionals to pin down the difference between virtual, augmented, mixed and extended reality – and to decide which approach best suits your next project. But it’s important to understand the distinctions between them, because they all come with a different set of technology requirements – and different price points.

Here, we have defined the four key concepts that every event professional needs under your belt when pitching, planning and producing virtual reality events.

Virtual reality (VR)

Virtual realities all have two things in common, CGI and live action.

Virtual reality replaces the reality around you with an entirely CGI designed world. Wearing a headset, users are fed audio and video in a fully immersed world that uses motion sensors and gesture control. This reality is based on an individual environment within your headset, and cannot be experienced by numerous people at once. Here are some creative examples of how VR can be used.

Augmented reality (AR)

Augmented reality uses computer graphics as an overlay on top of a live action background, almost like a hologram. Like VR, it’s an individual experience, and can be accessed via an enabled mobile device or set of glasses. A popular example is Pokémon Go, which uses an individual’s phone to combine digital tech with the physical world. This video demonstrates several imaginative AR applications.

Mixed reality (MR)

Mixed reality encompasses both VR and AR. It merges real world situations with computer graphics, creating a reality where virtual and real-world objects can co-exist and interact with each other in real time. This video displays how MR can be used as an educational tool. Once it’s in an MR environment, the piece of machinery becomes an interactive user manual.

Extended reality (XR)

Extended reality is an umbrella term that covers all the realities combined at different levels to produce a virtual environment that everyone can experience together. The example shown here shows a real-world live performance inserted into a motion controlled virtual reality, using XR enabled cameras.

Creating dynamic live productions with the latest technologies

There’s no question that utilising different realities can help make your next virtual event more engaging and immersive. Understanding the different options – and the ways they can be used – are the first steps to getting the most out of this exciting technology.