You've heard of virtual reality. But this is the year of "augmented reality," or AR, according to Joe Schwinger, CEO and co-founder of meetings technology company MeetingPlay.
"I think it will become commonplace in 2018," says Schwinger, who describes AR as "the ability for users with their mobile phones to see something that nobody else can see."
If you've ever played the popular smartphone game Pokémon Go, you have experience with AR.
"Think about it as an overlay on top of the pre-existing environment," Schwinger continues. "With virtual reality, you don't see what's going on around you; you're taken to a completely different environment. With augmented reality, you're using the camera of your phone to overlay pictures on top of reality."
So, how do you use AR at meetings and events? Although there are lots of possibilities, gamification is the way to go, according to Schwinger. "The more engaged a customer is in your brand, the longer their attention span will be," he says. "With that in mind, our goal at the end of the day is to keep attendee engagement as high on day three of the meeting as it is on day one. The way we do that is by using playful interaction to meet the goals and objectives of the conference."
At its 2017 Corporate Partnership Conference (CPC), for example, Marriott International used MeetingPlay's new AR features to create a game promoting its various brands; attendees collected virtual tokens around the meeting venue, and learned about Marriott's 30 hotel brands in the process.
"We didn't use augmented reality for the sake of using augmented reality," Schwinger concludes. "We used it because it was a catchy, fun, and exciting way to show off these 30 brands and have meeting planners walk away knowing what they're all about."