More than a decade ago, it was lonely as a developer in AR and VR, so a small group of pioneers regularly started to meet and share ideas out of sheer necessity. During these informal meetings, the concept for the Augmented World Expo (AWE) was conceived as a unique opportunity for hundreds of passionate AR/VR professionals and enthusiasts to meet, share ideas and help catapult this incredible tech into the mainstream.
These annual gatherings helped shape the evolution of AR and VR, and over the years AWE evolved to showcase real products and customers in the enterprise and consumer markets. It grew to a place for thousands of professionals working in AR and VR to learn about the latest developments, partner, hire, generate high quality sales leads and synchronize the larger tech industry. By creating a roadmap to help the industry align itself and make the best use of funding and resources toward a common goal, AWE has continued its focus on improving adoption of AR and VR by the masses. The first event took place in 2010 and as a founding group they had one moonshot goal and rallying cry for their industry: “1 billion AR users by 2020!”
Business View Magazine recently asked Augmented World Expo how they are adapting their business during the Covid-19 pandemic. The following highlights the company’s innovative and evolving responses to this critical situation.
Challenge in the Industry
BVM: What do you do when your expos aren’t allowed to exist (in their traditional format) for the foreseeable future? How do you pivot? How do you continue to provide value to exhibitors?
AWE: When it became clear in early March that the Coronavirus would spread in the U.S., we made the difficult position to pivot to an online event. We focused on translating the main reasons exhibitors and attendees attend the physical AWE into an online format:
Listening to talks by top industry experts > same quality talks delivered via robust live streaming or on demand.
Checking out exhibits to view the latest demos and interact with exhibitors > online browsing, including access to myriad exhibitor resources, video calls with exhibitors’ staff, and plenty of side events in VR and AR.
Networking between attendees, speakers, exhibitors, press, etc. > easy search for networking, scheduling video meetings.
Engaging in planned or serendipitous hallway meetings > video group meetings for special or random topics.
The online event will allow attendees to view, interact and network with more than 200 speakers, 200 exhibitors and thousands of professionals working in AR and VR. Additionally, ticket holders will have a full year of access to all of the streaming content we create throughout the show, which provides ongoing value.
BVM: How have you maintained your employees, vendors, and clients to ensure you are doing everything you can for your ‘people’?
AWE: With the pivot to the online event we made it our mission to keep our entire existing team on board albeit at a smaller scale because the digital event has very different requirements. Attendees and exhibitors that originally signed up for the in-person event are showing full support for the online format as well. The pivot to a digital format has actually turned this year’s AWE into a more globally-reaching and inclusive opportunity, so we’re seeing new exhibitors and attendees who’ve never been able to participate before due to geography or inclusive cost.
BVM: What are some of the key moves that you have made during the crisis that has given you leverage in your industry? What do you attribute this to?
AWE: It was crucial that we investigate, uncover and implement new technologies that we have previously not used for the physical event – specifically new online platforms and channels where users can access the amazing content generated at AWE. One unique challenge we had is that many of our users use bleeding-edge technology on a daily basis, but in order to solve for the larger audience, we had to ensure that the tools we use for the online event serve a wide variety of users with hardware of all types.
The AWE brand, known for quality, depth and breadth, is seeing strong support from exhibitors and attendees who are eager to connect with the community and continue to drive the industry forward. Some of our sponsors and exhibitors have been with us for all ten years of the show.
*Special message from AWE: “In order to support our job seeker colleagues in the AR/VR space, AWE is offering complementary online show passes ($399 value) to help anyone in our industry who has been recently laid off due to the pandemic. They should visit the AWE website to apply. https://www.awexr.com/usa-2020/free-ticket-application
“The all-access pass will give job seekers the ability to interact with leaders in the space through an online dashboard and they can even ‘self-identify’ that they are currently looking for employment. This should help job seekers continue to learn about the space & network from home while also helping companies who are looking to hire additional talent.”