Problems with Trade Show Virtual Reality and How to Fix Them – Part 1

In exhibitry, News by Tracy EvansLeave a Comment

I confess. I had been a trade show virtual reality skeptic. As much as I personally loved the VR experience, for decades I steered our customers away from VR citing a litany of challenges inherent in the trade show environment. No trade show use scenario had ever checked all the boxes for me. Then, suddenly, about 18 months ago, those check boxes began to fill.

New technologies started appearing that lowered costs and raised practicality, both by an order of magnitude. This spurred new research and applications in a variety of industries. VR began transforming from an expensive techno-curiosity to a practical and effective story telling medium.

But challenges still persist in our industry. Trade shows and event usage presents unique requirements that other industries (gaming, reality, scientific visualization, etc.) need not take into account. So it’s up to us to solve those problems in order to fully utilize this medium for our benefit. This series will look at the problems that inevitably crop with trades show VR and discuss how to avoid those speed bumps along the way.

Throughput Bottleneck

Time is money on a trade show floor, so it’s vital that you make the most of it. You have only so long to grab visitors’ attention, engage them in your product and make your pitch. There are several aspects of the VR experience that, without specific attention, can slow down the pace and flow of visitors through your booth.

A typical VR experience involves one or more visitors donning and adjusting a head-worn display of some sort. The more time you spend “gearing up” customers for VR, the less time you spend delivering your message and achieving your goals for the show.

Most standard virtual reality gear is not designed to be up to the task of public use. It can be clumsy to put on and remove. Exposed cables and floppy straps are unsightly in your booth and have a way of catching on people’s clothing, hair and ears. The last thing you want is a potential customer fumbling about trying to disentangle themselves from your product presentation.

For some, there is also an intimidation factor to VR gear. Some will look at the complex tangle of wires, sensors and speakers and think, “How cool is that!” while others would not dream of strapping that thing on there head.

To avoid looking amateurish, make sure that your VR gear is specifically designed for the the requirements of a trade show environment. It should use as many solid parts, as opposed to fabric straps, as possible. The fewer motions required to slip in and out of the headset the better. If you have the opportunity to dress out your gear as something more familiar or theme it to your product it will make the entire experience more approachable. The photo for example shows a VR Vue customized headset themed for heavy industry.

More to Come

Other issues to be aware of before starting work on your VR trade show experience include usability design, sanitary issues and the single-user dilemma. We will address each of these, and more, in turn with this series.

Have you tied using VR at your trade shows or events? What issues did you run into and what solutions did you invent. Please join us in the conversation below.

Until next time, I remain virtually yours,
Tracy Evans, President,

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