Summary

Virtual reality is finding it’s way to consumer homes, the work floor; everyday life. The event industry has also taken note but there are still some misconceptions and barriers to overcome like the ease of use and costs . In this guidewe will show that VR is easy, affordable and a great asset to anyone in or around the event industry.

The uses for VR vary widely. It can be used to transport people to another location, show your product or simply to draw attention or entertain. Use it before your event to invite people, at your event to show what they are missing out on and after the event why they should attend next time.

While there are many VR devices to choose from, we advise the Oculus GO for 360 video. For games or simulations use the Oculus Rift if people need to sit, the HTC Vive if they can walk around. When the type of content is not dictated by the client we advise using 360 content. Especially  for larger events or when the budget, space or staff is limited.

Choose from  video categories like nature, space, thrills and storytelling to offer something for each individual.

When games are requested choose the ones which are ‘easy to learn’ hard to master, like beatsaber. G Doing so ensures you have something for the novice as well as the expert. Games with a shooting element work well, are easy to pick up and fun for almost everyone. Most importantly; make sure it has end, keeping momentum and make sure everybody gets to enjoy the experience.

Due to the technical nature of VR, preparation is key. Test your content, hardware and brief your staff. Moreover, use specialized software like VR Sync to make preparation and execution easier.  Above all; make sure the crowd enjoys the experience and has a great memory of using VR.

Introduction

While VR is taking giant leaps it still leaves a lot to be desired, especially for (large) events. Big groups still pose problems in terms of scalability, control and support. Luckily there are some great guidelines and solutions to successfully use VR at your event. In this guide we will go in depth. You’ll learn everything about hardware, software, content and providing support. Making sure you can provide the best VR experience at your next event.

How to use VR at an event

We have analyzed the current VR market and have found that we can categorize the reason of using VR on event in four different categories.

Use VR for entertainment

Virtual Reality is incredibly fun, a huge part of consumers rate their experience with VR as very exciting. For every event, audience and cliënt there is a suitable experience available.

Reasons why brands use virtual reality are brand engagement, a positive association and a high share value. Being immersed in VR creates an incredible engagement with the brand’s message. When it’s also a fun experience the user will gain a positive feeling about the brand.

Some great examples for VR entertainment at events:

Chevrolet

Chevrolet created multiple VR- experiences to promote their brand. First they created a car simulator in the mountains for their new Chevrolet Colorado. To truly capture the car’s capabilities in its natural habitat, the dirt. After that they created a VR Baseball game to get people’s attention during the Chicago auto show.

Lufthansa

Lufthansa took a different route. They let people inside an aircraft see a live 360 view of the things happening below the plane. They also got to see an interactive 3D map, where they could fly around and enjoy different locations around the world.

Huawei

Combining the real world with VR. Huawei wanted to show off their new 5G technology so they created a racing game where the drivers were sitting inside with a VR-headset and a racing wheel. Outside there were tiny racing cars running around the track.

Merrell ‘Trailscape’

Creating the real deal. Using VR and motion tracking equipment Merrell created a hike that was combining the real world with the virtual. You could walk a bridge but also feel the ground shaking. Making people want to go outside!

Transporting peoplo to another location

Virtual Reality is a great way to ‘get away’. To physically be in one place and virtually in another. This can have great commercial value. Transporting people to a location where the product/service is being made or sold is a great use case. Like a visit to the Tesla factory.  Tour operators like Thomas Cook and hotels like the Marrriot take VR transportation to the next level. Last mentioned transport clients to the other side of the world.

When there is no need for anything commercial, VR can also be interesting. Relaxing at the beach or in nature for a couple of minutes can really take the edge off at a busy fair or expo.  For example, the Sensisks is a sensory reality pod which offers a great way to relax.

Demo your product, service or company with virtual reality

It’s already proven that VR has a much higher engagement and click through rate while the emotional reaction is also much stronger than traditional, 2D media. So it’s safe to assume that people are more willing to dive into a fun VR experience than talk to a sales representative. I

While in the virtual world users can interact in a unique way by changing scenarios, demo-ing product  or ‘using’ your product. Rituals has done this with a campaign for their Hamam line. Creating a multisensory experience where attendees get a virtual and real life massage simultaneously.  Bringing an unique experience which engages all the senses.

Some examples of product demo’s:

Ford

Ford showed 750 people their new Ford Shelby using virtual reality. The car drove through a virtual world showing off the new look and new features. And when the video ended the real car was lifted down onto the stage. Talking about an car-tastic entrancence!

Renault

Also promoted their new car the Renault Koleos using VR. They let people inside a plane experience what it was like to get off the plane and then drive the new Koleos. When the people would get off the plane though. They would find themself using the car for real.

Mont Blanc

Mont blanc wanted to give their influencers a special threat. So they send them a package containing their brand new smart watch and a cardboard VR headset. Using the headset they were able to see the product in a 3D environment, a complete show with the features of their new smart watch.

Saga Gateshead

Sage Gateshead is a concert venue and also a centre for musical education. They wanted to let more people appreciate their beautiful centre. So they created a VR-experience where everyone could play instruments by pressing different objects in de virtual world

Invite, stream or report

While VR can be incredibly helpful during your event it is also a great tool before and after. Sending an invitation presented in VR is a really unique way to grab attention. You’ll really stand out against the many invites being sent by mail or other old school media. Simply send a branded Cardboard and include an 360 video invite and you’ll be surprised by the engagement and number of RSVP’s.

One Plus

A great example is the phone company OnePlus. They  gave away 40.000 Cardboards for the first ever product launch in virtual reality.  The Cardboards were gone in couple of minutes and the launch was a great success.

If people don’t attend it’s always smart to let them know what they are missing so that they won’t miss that chance again. Setting up a 360 livestream and having people experience, rather than see with an traditional 2D stream, will really entice them.

Volvo

Volvo did a great campaign surround the solar eclipse in 2017. They send a fleet of XC60s to various vantage points across the country, where they recorded the event in 360-degrees. After the event you were able to share (parts of) this livestream or you were able to make a aftermovie in 360.  Sending this to people who visited (and didn’t) is a really great way to keep them engaged even after the event.

Preparing an VR event

As with all events a solid preparation is key. When VR is involved this is even more so. Start by checking all hardware to see if it functions, that no cables are missing and that you have at least a couple of spare units.  Next is making sure that the right content is on the devices and working properly. You don’t want to show the wrong video or play the wrong game.

After everything is double checked on your end consult the location.  Is there enough room, power and equipment like chairs and tables available.  Also, before you leave to attend the event double check the equipment. You can’t explain screwing up because of a missing cable. Making sure you have a capable staff and that they are properly briefed is also smart; we’ll come to that in the next bit.

Staff and support at an VR event

Making sure the event goes without any hiccups is essential. If something goes wrong, that’s what the audience will remember. Avoiding issues by checking (and double checking! ) your equipment is one sure way to avoid issues.  Train your staff and have them solve issues in a controlled environment. Having a backup unit and second line support staff available will solve most issues.

Trained staff who are familiar with the equipment and know how to troubleshoot are essential in making sure your event goes well. Also having a checklist available for the most common issues and how to solve them can really come in handy.

VR Devices & Hardware

Choosing the right tool for the job is essential. There are many different kind of VR headsets, also called HMD; head mounted displays. In general there are 2 categories; desktop and mobile. Also called tethered and untethered.

Desktop headsets

Desktop units require powerful computers and are suited for more complex and interactive games and simulations. The most well known are the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. They offer an awesome experience where the user can walk, turn and interact with digital objects. Building, painting and even shooting. However, they are more expensive, less scalable and require more staff to operate properly.

Whether you need these devices depends on the content and client. If you have the option to choose, considerer the following.

  • How many people are attending? Most experience last about 5 minutes, meaning that you can serve around 20 people per headset, per hour.
  • What is the budget? You need one staff member to operate a set. Meaning costs can go up pretty quickly.
  • How much space is available? You need at least 4 by 3 meters to setup a headset. When space is limited you can also use the Rift for seated experience.

Duration of your event? Building up and breaking down can take up to an hour with proper testing. With a short event may not be worthwhile setting up these headsets.

Mobile headsets

Most mobile headsets are headsets that don’t external power or hardware to operate. Some use a mobile phone, like the well known Samsung Gear VR, while others have an build in screen. Most notable the new Oculus Go.  Which is our weapon of choice for events.

Again, whether you have the option to use this content depends but take the following into account. As a general rule mobile headsets are cheaper, scalable and user friendly. They are mostly used for 360 content and simple games. Other features to take into account are:

  • Mobile headsets take up less room. You just need the approx 2m per unit meaning you can make the most out of your space.
  • They are cheaper to buy and rent, getting more bang for your buck
  • Needs less staff to operate when using a Sync solution, about 1 staff member for 25 devices

Have less issues, are easy to set-up and replace and less complex for people to understand. Making them are user friendly option for events.

Up and coming; Oculus Quest

In the spring of 2019 the new Oculus Quest headset will be released. A stand alone headset which let’s user move freely around the room. It’s a combination of a mobile and desktop headset. Offering a great immersive experience with the advantages of mobile headset. Powerful, affordable and wireless VR. This will be great addition to arsenal of the VR event business.

Conclusion: which VR headset do I choose?

First, the content. You can’t play complex games on mobile devices and a 360 video device on a high end headset is overkill. Secondly, the crowd. How many people do you need to engage. Mobile headsets for large crowds, desktop for smaller. Lastly the budget. Mobile headsets require are cheaper and require less staff but offer a less memorable experience.

Choosing the right VR Content

What is the right content? Often this is dictated by the client, crowd or your own wishes. But if you can (or have to) choose the old mantra ‘content is king’ also holds up for VR. While hardware might often be forgotten -except if it doesn’t work- the experience is what most will remember.

360 video

For most events, 360 videos are the content of choice. There are many 360 videos available for free online and they vary widely. From laid back relaxing at the beach or watching space to intens flights, races or shoot-outs. In general most use a ‘standard’ 360 video filmed by a specially designed camera. Some might show an animated video. Some a combination of ‘real’ video with animated effect.

Video Categories

The type of video has to be suited to the event, client or crowd. Sometimes you are force fed a client video but more often than not you’re required to make a suggestion or make the decision. What typical works well are these types of content;

  • Nature
  • Racing
  • Space
  • Cinematic
  • Scary

Choosing multiple categories and selecting different video’s for each guarantees that you’ll have something to serve to almost everybody.

The second important thing to take into account is the time frame. For events, we advise a duration of a 2-3 minutes per video. This keeps momentum and the experience interesting. Also this enables you to serve larger crowds. But then again; it all depends on the event and conditions set by you, or the client.

These are some of our favorite 360 video’s to show for events:

Shark Dive
Short, up close and scary. A great way to entertain visitors and get the heart racing. Not for the faint of hard so choose your crows wisely.

Explore the world in 4k

Viewing New York from beneath a helicopter or the arctic from a boat. A amazing trip around the world in 360.

Red bull F1 VR

An VR experience where u are next to the Formula 1 car driver.  Give your visitors an crazy experience of speed.

Google 360 Doodle show

Funny and unique. 3D animated people show u around a cartonee kind of world. More than enough to see for your customers.

IT

Scary enough to make even the bravest people shiver in fear. This 4 minute clip will take you through the sewers from the movie IT .

Great software to use for 360 playback at events

Showing the 360 video’s can be difficult because most headsets aren’t made to be used at events. You have the guide the attendees trough menu’s and have them select the right item which is a definite show stopper. Luckily our team has developed two types of software to help you out; VR Sync & Look&Play.

VR Sync for Synchronized 360 playback for groups

The solution when you need to service large groups at the same time.  The content is uploaded to each device and with the push of button played in sync. You can find out more on our homepage or get a free trial.

Look&Play Kiosk mode for VR headsets

We developed a Kiosk mode for VR headsets which enables an easy and fast way to show user 360 video’s to individual users. Users simply look at an icon to start the video. You can find out more on the Look&Play website.

VR Games

Games are a whole other type of deal then 360 video’s. The require better hardware, more staff and a harder to control and explain. For large crowds they are generally not advised, also because scalability is limited.

When choosing a VR game keep the crowd in mind. Most people have little experience with VR games. While VR is becoming more mainstream you will be surprised about the number of ‘first timers’.

Having a selection of games is smart so you can entertain the novice as well as the expert. Easy to learn, hard to master is the way to go. The type of game is related to the conditions set. Shooting arrows or lasers is always fun and easy to get the hang of. There are numerous games available in this category and have little bloodshed (see list below). Quite handy at any corporate event.

Most importantly in choosing the right game, make sure it ends. Some games and VR experiences don’t have a clear ending which results in some people not wanting the quit. In general, most shooter-type games have a set time-limit. Or are so difficult that most participants won’t last longer than a couple of minutes.

These 5 games a great for VR at events;

Robo Recall

Robo Recall features everything u need to entertain the crowd. Beautiful looks and u get to shoot up robot’s with a array of guns.

Beat Saber

The Guitar Hero of VR. In this game you hit boxes with light sabers on your favorite music tracks. Perfect for a short demo of the capabilities of VR.

Space pirate trainer

Shooting flying space robots. This game combines movement with shooting. Dodge the robots that are shooting at you while simultaneously shooting back at them.

Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes

One person is in the real world reading bomb defusing options and one person is wearing a VR headset seeing the actual bomb. The mission? Defuse the bomb together.

VR Dining Games

An array of games that u play during a dinner. All designed to make people cooperate and at the same time compete against other teams. So jump into some amazing VR games while at the same time enjoying a lovely meal.

How to make VR a more social experience

While in most cases virtual reality is a individual experience there are some ways to make it a more social event. One way is using multiplayer virtual reality games. Those are often complex and can take a while, which is not ideal for events. You’re looking for an easy, scalable solution.

A great way to create a engaging and social experience is using synchronization software. This enables people to view the same 360 content simultaneously. For this purpose multiple parties offer software. Together with our clients we developed a solution called VR Sync which you can read more about here.

Ready, for your next VR Event?

Hopefully after reading this paper you’ll have all the information needed to make the best out of your next (VR) event. We have shared all the insights we have gained throughout the years. Don’t be afraid to add VR to your toolset. While it may seem daunting at first, it will be an experience which your audience will love, and you will too. Guaranteed.

Ready, for your next VR Event?

Hopefully after reading this paper you’ll have all the information needed to make the best out of your next (VR) event. We have shared all the insights we have gained throughout the years. Don’t be afraid to add VR to your toolset. While it may seem daunting at first, it will be an experience which your audience will love, and you will too. Guaranteed.

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