Mixed Reality and Experiential Marketing: How to Blend Realities to Create an Unforgettable Experience
You’ve heard of Virtual Reality, and are familiar with Augmented Reality, but what is Mixed Reality? Mixed Reality is the most recent development in reality technologies, and can be confusing, so let’s define all three first:
- Virtual reality (VR) places users in a 100% artificial digital environment (like Oculus Rift content).
- Augmented reality (AR) uses overlays to display virtual objects on the real-world environment (like Pokemon Go).
- Mixed reality (MR) goes beyond overlays, anchoring virtual objects to the real world for interaction.
There are two types of Mixed Reality. The first type is Mixed Reality, starting with the real world. Virtual objects are not simply overlaid on the real world, but there is interaction with virtual objects. A user would environment while digital content is added to it; moreover, a user can interact with virtual objects. Technically, this type of mixed reality is an advanced AR technology. In application, the Microsoft HoloLens with the Skype app is a solid example of this type of mixed reality in action:
The other type of MR starts with the virtual world, and the user is anchored to an interactive digital environment replacing the real world. The digital objects in this environment overlap real objects. In VR the virtual environment has no connection to the real world around a user. A Windows mixed reality headset would be an example of a way to experience this technology.
In experiential marketing, we are constantly finding new ways to bring our clients’ products to a consumer and give them an experience they won’t soon forget. We strive to plan activations that will not only reach people but also get them excited about the products. Mixed Reality can keep an audience engaged with a brand, and reach a larger audience. It’s the cutting edge of technology, and brands are beginning to find success blending realities for a more immersive experience. VR and AR have their applications, but the future is Mixed Reality. Now that we have an understanding of MR, lets discuss how this technology can be applied in the experiential marketing world.
Why Use Mixed Reality for Events?
One of our favorite benefits of MR is the immersive factor, which is a step above VR and AR. A pure VR experience can wow a user with a digital world, but allowing that user to interact with that world makes for a more memorable experience.
Another benefit for events is slimming down the space needed at the venue, while providing an expansive space to display your products. Trade shows in particular often require massive amounts of space to accommodate all of the different items on display. Car shows in particular require hundreds of thousands of square feet to fit their vehicle displays. Mixed reality could eliminate the need for expansive venues, while providing a better brand experience. Companies like Volvo are working on tech that would allow potential customers jto engage with their cars through headsets. Instead of needing a space to display the entire fleet of vehicles, a full demo of each car could be held in a single space, with interaction to open doors, start the vehicle, walk around it, etc.
Mixed Reality can be a better method platform for educational experiences. An immersive mixed reality example that our team enjoyed is the recent broadcast of The Weather Channel’s MR tornado education. The technology in use is the Unreal Engine by Epic Games (currently famous for Fortnite, but with a long slate of successful games). Watch it below.
The visual effects and entertainment draw in the viewer, and while your attention is captured, the experience helps the channel reach their goal of educating their audience about tornado formation and safety. It’s easy to forget that immersive content has a goal because of the entertainment factor. But this segment strikes a healthy balance. Host Jim Cantore’s reactions are chuckle worthy, but he sells the bit and you can sense how dangerous it would be to face a large tornado. Viewers will recall the lessons learned from an experience like this over an educational piece with no entertainment or immersive factors.
MR technology is also well used on event stages such as the usage of Microsoft HoloLens by Cirque du Soleil to turn a demonstration into an experience. Seeing how the team created their staging in a live demo is a fascinating way to use the MR technology.
Looking forward, MR can accomplish virtual attendance at events, which will help brands expand the audience that is able to enjoy an experience. Live streams can help with audience expansion, but it’s not as personal as an experience specifically designed to accommodate virtual attendees.
How to Implement Mixed Reality at an Event
There are a lot of questions and players needed to successfully accomplish a Mixed Reality experience. The main barrier is the technology, who will build the experience? What should the goal be for our experience? What technology is needed for the users to have an unforgettable experience? How much space do we need? These are questions we recommend discussing with an experiential marketing firm. A Mixed Reality experience must be properly executed for a flawless experience. The technology involved is still developing, and it’s best to hire experts in the field. Have an incredible idea for a mixed reality activation? We’d love to partner with you and make it happen.
Hit us up! We’d love to partner with you.