Virtual and augmented reality may not be part of the daily lives of the average person yet, but these immersive technologies are certainly gaining entry into the average person’s general awareness thanks to the growing number of tech conferences, summits and expos either centred on these technologies or established trade shows making room for them.
Around the world more than 45 international events focused on virtual and augmented reality have taken place so far this year. This number does not include the more closed academic events at tertiary institutions and the numerous local events taking place all over the world on a weekly and monthly basis.
These events are attracting hundreds of startups and companies from all over the world, giving them the ideal platform to show live demonstrations of their work to thousands of consumers who are beginning to realise how these technologies will impact their working and personal lives in years to come. The events also provide a platform for professionals from retail, commerce, marketing and consumer goods to get to grips with the challenges and opportunities AR & VR technologies offer.
Events like the Sundance Film Festival's New Frontier, SXSW, and Tribeca have seen an explosion of new projects in film and documentary in virtual reality. These developments have led to the first ever public event to explore the future of the documentary and VR, held in Los Angeles earlier this year.
Some events are huge. This year’s Game Developers Conference had a record-breaking attendance of more than 27,000 attendees in a large part due to the advent of VR. The 2nd annual SVVR Conference & Expo in Silicon Valley last year was a sold-out event attended by more than 1,400 virtual reality professionals and more than 100 VR companies. Most recently, the international VR conference and expo, CVR 2016, held in Vancouver was also a sold-out event.
"CVR 2016 was a fantastic event! Vancouver is a stellar location and the event drew a wonderfully diverse crowd of receptive people eager to check out the state of the art in VR. We can't wait for next year!" said Kevin Mack, Founder of Shape Space VR.
The rest of the year still holds a lot of promise for VR enthusiasts with at least nine international events just in June alone to look forward to, one of them in Japan. 3D and Virtual Reality Expo, Japan's largest virtual reality exhibition, is a three-day event from 22 to 24 June where more than 1,600 companies will be represented.
As attendance numbers grow, conferences will have a multiplier effect, raising general awareness about VR and other immersive technologies amongst increasing numbers of consumers. As more consumers develop an interest in immersive technologies, demand for products that enable amazing immersive experiences, will escalate as will demand for high quality content. The crucial point for the industry will be to meet the expectations of consumers in a timeous manner.