Spatial Computing is the Future of the Conference Event Experience 

Future of the Conference Event Experience 

The Covid-19 pandemic transformed the event experience in significant ways. With much of the world effectively shut down, in-person events were canceled en masse, and organizers were left scratching their heads about how to adapt on the hoof. Several such organizers, unwilling to postpone until lockdowns were lifted, decided events should go ahead in a different form. Thus, ticket prices were slashed and virtual get-togethers (trade shows, conferences, etc) offered attendees a very different experience.

Mercifully, lockdown is a thing of the past. But virtual and hybrid events have continued. Organizers appreciate the benefits of combining in-person and virtual elements, leveraging VR and AR tech to create immersive and interactive experiences for ticket-holders.

This trend is only going to accelerate in the years to come. Indeed, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are just the tip of the iceberg. The next step in the evolution of this technology is spatial computing, and it’s set to turn the event experience on its head.

The Evolution of Events

Many business sectors still host good old-fashioned industry events with minimal tech beyond a projector and microphone. Professionals show up, shoot the breeze, watch a succession of formulaic presentations, eat sandwiches cut into triangles, and stay a few nights at a perfectly serviceable hotel. Then they go home.

More common these days – especially in sectors like fintech and electronics, event experiences often involve multiple tech touchpoints. This includes features like mobile check-in and contactless badge scanning. Additionally, physical spaces are enhanced with AR overlays, while dedicated VR booths allow attendees to explore digital spaces and products using headsets to experience full digital immersion. Improvements such as 5G connectivity, blockchain ticketing, and AI-powered gamified experiences all contribute to creating a rich and immersive tech-driven modern event.

And this is where the event experiences are headed. Conference organizers recognize the need to boost engagement, make events more dynamic, and improve the likelihood of ticket-buyers returning next year. Is it possible to achieve this without tech? Sure. But it’s very challenging. Meeting modern consumer expectations without the use of technology gets harder each year.

Spatial computing is an umbrella term that encompasses a range of bleeding-edge technologies: VR and AR, yes, but also AI and machine proprioception (i.e. teaching robots how to sense their physical environment). Spatial computing allows for information floating in the ether to be anchored to physical reality, and this gives rise to the prospect of a truly unforgettable event experience.

This is not a vision of the future; it’s already happening. At last year’s 2023 Hong Kong Fintech Week, hosted in a capacious 17,000 square meter space, spatial computing was employed by Auki Labs to deliver a superior indoor navigation experience. All attendees had to do was scan lighthouse QR codes on the floor to access route-optimized virtual pathways leading to various venues, participants, restaurants, and cafes. This particular implementation of spatial computing was akin to a highly accurate Google Maps for an indoor environment, saving attendees the time they’d otherwise waste searching for the booths and amenities they wanted to find.

Auki’s approach involved mapping the vast conference center – creating a navmesh of the event’s walkable area with 110 QR codes (or “poses”) – and utilized the posemesh, Auki’s decentralized spatial computing protocol. By favoring this model, the Auki team said it circumvented the connectivity constraints that plague large events of this nature while using considerably less data than alternative solutions like spatial anchors.

Enhanced navigation is just one advantage spatial computing can bring to events, however. The convergence of the digital and physical worlds that this tech engenders gives rise to endless opportunities for greater engagement, superior site designs, customized experiences and recommendations, and improved risk management.

The overlaying of AR and VR at events, for example, can allow for interactive product demonstrations or even real-estate simulations. Meanwhile, displays can be brought to life to enhance live performances or presentations. Rather than watching a narrative play out on a screen, event-goers get to enjoy multi-dimensional narratives that seamlessly blend the digital and physical together.

Ultimately, the virtual events that proliferated during COVID-19 were just the beginning. However, nothing will ever replace physical interaction; the dynamic immersive experiences offered by the integration of spatial computing promise to make events more memorable and efficient. With the global event industry expected to reach a value of $2.1 trillion by 2032, it’s up to organizers to leverage smart technology to deliver shows that go beyond dull presentations and shop-talking around the booth. If they don’t, their competitors certainly will.

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