VR 2.0 – Elevating Events in New and Exciting Ways

February 3, 2017

Jeff Janes

Jeff Janes is Creative Director at GES. With more than 25 years of design experience, including more than 20 years at GES, his firsthand experience ranges from project leadership and creative strategy to designing exhibits, permanent installation, interiors, events and marketing. 

The sedentary experiences of most virtual reality activations today with a heavy headset and repurposed gaming chair are quickly coming to an end. The latest and best VR experiences allow users to get up and walk around or incorporate additional elements, such as motion or even scent, providing a completely immersive sensory experience for event attendees.

This strategy has come to life as part of the 2017 Super Bowl LIVE Fan Festival, where GES and partner IDEAS quite literally “launched” Future Flight, an out-of-this-world virtual reality experience, including a tower-drop ride that takes guests on an excursion through space to Mars. Guests don VR goggles for the 2-minute ride, which concludes with a 64-foot vertical drop that transports riders back to Earth, landing on the 50-yard-line of Houston’s NRG Stadium.

Riders not only learn real information about NASA’s exploration of deep space through a manipulative VR environment and voice narrative, they also experience the thrill of the journey through the fusion of sensory immersion and literal negative gravity drop – it’s exhilarating, to say the least.

This combination of a virtual environment with actual, physical motion is the latest trend in experiential events, enabling brands to completely immerse attendees into their custom-built world. This hyper-realistic experience helps to solidify the memory in participants’ brains, resulting in an enjoyable, positive brand experience that your attendees will want to share.

This is also a more dynamic way to inspire youthful riders – the next generation of Astronauts – because, as we know, the first person to step onto Mars is probably in middle school today.

Another recent example comes from Samsung, who at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show showcased a number of VR 2.0 experiences, including a speedboat race, a stunt plane ride and a face-first Olympic skeleton ride down a frozen track. Each of these experiences utilized not only VR headsets for the visual and auditory components but also physical motion, making the experience that much more visceral for the attendee.

At the Sundance Film Festival, outdoor equipment manufacturer, Merrell, provided an industry-first hiking experience that had consumers moving around in a virtual commercial – a thrilling journey along the edge of a cliff (with a rocky surface to match) while experiencing the reliable comfort of wearing the brand’s boot. What better way for customers to fall in love with your brand than to walk a mile in your shoes?

As brands push the limits of what’s possible with virtual reality, the practical applications for brand activations, live events and product experiences will continue to expand. How will you ride the virtual wave?

The maturing of virtual reality and its use in live events and experiential marketing is just one of 50 trends showcased in GES’ new 2017 Trend Tracker guide.

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