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Expert Opinion: Incorporating virtual reality into your events plan

Mark Dries is the founder of MIRK

Mark Dries is the founder of Mirk, a Sydney-based company which crafts immersive virtual reality and augmented reality experiences for businesses looking for something a little different to impress. Here he shares with Spice Magazine all the possibilities of the emerging technology and how it will change the events scape forever.

How do you see virtual reality / augmented reality technology impacting the events and exhibition industry?

Don’t tell me, show me! Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality allows the user to experience and interact with things for themselves. Whether used by events as a whole or by individual brands within larger events, VR and AR technology offers a huge opportunity to deliver an unmatched experience. The ability now exists to attend an event on the other side of the globe in a fully immersed VR environment, simply by slipping your mobile phone into a VR headset… pretty cool huh?

 How will mobile and social media play into the trend?

With FacebookVR, Youtube now streaming live VR content and Snapchat’s World Lenses creating live AR experiences, social media will play a pivotal role in furthering the advancement of virtual and augmented reality. With Facebook VR, rather than just reading what your best mate Jim is having for breakfast, you’ll be able to throw on a VR headset and be in Jimbo’s kitchen munching down on some coco pops together. It’s not really VR’s best use, but I’m sure it will appeal to some!

How can adopting virtual reality improve attendee engagement?

With a significant amount of the population having still not experienced VR, now is a great opportunity to showcase the technology to people at events, as it will put the brand that delivered it at the forefront of their minds.

How can event managers adopt virtual reality/augmented reality into their event plan without breaking the budget?

We’ve developed simple VR and AR experiences for clients for under 5k to help them “dip their toe into the water”. The ability to use most smartphones as VR AND AR devices and the ability to hire high-end VR systems, can make delivering these experiences cost-effective.

How fast has technology advanced in the VR sphere?

The technology has come a long way in just a couple of years since we’ve been in the space. All mobile devices (tablets and phones) are now being built with VR and AR in mind. The hand controllers that ship with the high end Vive and Rift devices, now offer the user amazing levels of interactivity within their VR experience.

Should event managers begin the conversation of implementing it into their event plans now? Or wait until the technology has advanced more?

The technology is already very impressive, although it is just the start of where we’ll end up within our lifetimes. The experience we can deliver just with a Samsung Galaxy phone and a Gear VR headset is pretty mind-blowing.

Can you share with us any success stories from businesses you have worked with who have adopted AR/VR?

We’ve developed experiences for a range of sectors and clients. We’ve carried out extensive work in the property sector with VR walkthroughs of properties, both in 3D environments and real-life environments captured on our 360 camera. We also carry out work for creative agencies that don’t offer VR and AR services in-house but want to deliver them to their client base. But something that’s in development now, that I can’t go into too much detail about, involves the education sector. We’re developing some projects that may change the way people learn in the future by using VR and AR technology, this is something we’re very passionate about!

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