Business Value and Cost of VR App Development for Exhibitions and Trade Shows

Michael Morozov
Founder & CEO

Remember the last time when an event flier left a real imprint on your memory?

Exhibitions, trade shows, and conferences demand new ways of catching an audience’s attention to stand out.

If you asked the event participants to recall what they saw in a virtual reality headset, you’d be surprised how many people vividly remember what’s been seen.

The multi-sensory VR experience easily piques the interests of those around you, making ROI at events exceedingly high. VR driven immersion has the real power to change to customer’s purchasing behavior.

A higher level of immersion brings a higher level of engagement.

And innovative companies are already utilizing virtual reality technology. VR has drastically increased the value of the trade showcases in the past few years.

For instance, CES 2016 was called the year of virtual reality technology. Last year’s exhibition contained an entire section of  VR showrooms that became a buzz in the tech world as “everyone wanted a piece of virtual reality.”

Exhibition Virtual Reality

Read also: How Event Organizers Can Apply Virtual Reality in the Event Industry

Meanwhile, Intel showed a keen interest in emerging technology and demonstrated what VR has to do with presentations and events. The company hosted its CES 2017 press conference in VR, was bringing visitors to the topics of how the technology changes traveling, work, and play.

Why should you consider building VR experience for your events?

VR for marketing is a better investment than it might seem. VR technology can be scaled and can offer a better understanding of the product.

What would you do if you wanted to show your product but it doesn’t fit into the room?

A new car model or an entire building can be easily showcased in 3D real-life scale.

With VR demo apps you can create unlimited virtual showrooms. You can walk event visitors through the endless pavilions or put them on a VR ride in the car seats, like the Mazda’s VR experience at AutoShow 2017.

By performing a VR demo app you also demonstrate how advanced and connected is your company with the latest technology.

Greenlight VR research revealed positive feelings for virtual reality technology among people, suggesting a powerful opportunity for event creators and marketing campaigns.

VR 2016 Greenlight

VR for sales is not a myth. The majority of respondents feel that virtual reality makes brands seem “forward-thinking and modern.”

Moreover, the study revealed 53% of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand that uses VR than from one that doesn’t.

How to maximize VR technology to gain the most significant perceptual lift?

Whether you want to demonstrate new products at events, do a virtual product tour, or host an interactive 360-degree virtual meeting, there are a few issues to think about before you can begin:

1. Your VR app should tie into your marketing campaign. The consumer barrier to entry for virtual reality is pretty high. Having a significant VR component doesn’t mean people will immediately know about it and want to use it.

To inform people and make them interested in getting the best virtual experience you can:

  • Make the VR feed streaming on a video wall
  • Show online how people are interacting with your booth
  • Engage attendees with VR gamification
  • Host interactive 360-degree virtual meetings for remote attendees

2. The event space compatibility with your VR demo app. Product demonstration is one of the most used cases of using VR technology at trade shows and conferences. It works especially efficiently for significant bulky products that can’t travel well or fit into the tight event spaces.

Yet, when VR app seems to be the best solution, you should carefully calculate the amount of space you need. Are customers supposed to sit/stand in one place or walk around the room?

Ensure there are no physical obstacles that can harm your guests while using the VR headset.

How to choose a VR platform for the highest quality virtual reality experience

There is a variety of available VR platforms, including Google Cardboard, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Samsung Gear VR, and Sony PlayStation VR. Let’s dig a bit deeper into the benefits of each so you can make an informed decision:

comparison of headsets

Image source: HTC Vive vs Google Cardboard vs Oculus Rift vs Samsung Gear VR vs Sony PlayStation VR in Versus comparison

The main benefit of Google Cardboard is its affordability. Its wholesale price is less than $10, and it can be branded.

In case you expect exceedingly high traffic at your event, setting up VR wearables like HTC Vive or the Oculus Rift might not meet the requirement. Meanwhile, giving away branded devices can create better brand awareness.

Samsung Gear VR is priced at around $100 and gives a little more immersion into your VR content than Google Cardboard. The visual experience mainly depends on which Samsung phone is used, but there are features you’ll surely get, e.g. wide 101-degree viewing angle.

The most impressive, but also a bit pricey (around $800) is HTC Vive. Although expansive, it can bring the best VR experience.

HTC Vive is staffed with wireless controllers which help you interact with objects in the virtual world and walk around the space. It has a built-in front-facing camera to alert if you get too close to objects in the real world.

Since it offers free-moving experience, using HTC Vive at events would require a lot of space.

The Oculus Rift permanent price dropped to $399 for the headset and controllers, making it an exciting choice. It is simple to set up, compared to HTC Vive.

However, the VR device requires a wired connection to a PC which doesn’t make it the most suitable option for the trade show VR app performance. Controllers offer limited room scaling and can track user’s movements in the desired play area.

Despite being not as powerful as Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, Sony PlayStation VR (PSVR) is an affordable introduction to the quality virtual experience. PSVR feels well built and comfortable, but there are some critical technical limitations. Its camera has a very tiny area where it can efficiently track the movement.

Considering the fact that PSVR is wholly integrated into the PlayStation Network and was initially made for gamers, the platform is more suitable for VR gamification.

exhibition virtual reality

The challenges VR app development has

VR is an excellent tool for attracting people’s attention, but there are still some technical challenges to be overcome.

  1. Immersive experience

Users are looking forward to getting a truly immersive experience, and tactile feedback seems to be one of the required features. You can feel full immersion when you reach out your hands and touch the objects you see, instead of being a passive observer.

Haptics, free movement in physical space, and realistic interactions with other users are just a few challenges to name when it comes to immersion.

Space Elevator VR app is one of the projects that could fully immerse users into the virtual environment. With the help of three elements: sight, sound, and touch, was created a sense of a real flight in space.

The virtual experience was launched at Solaris – a family exhibition about space.

VR for trade shows

For true immersion, real and virtual objects were fused together. The real moving platform was combined with virtual views of the space in the Oculus Rift headset. Users could interact with a virtual representation of an actual object in real time.

  1. Performance and latency

Another issue to face during VR app development is latency. Movements in the virtual world should be seamlessly integrated. You can’t turn left or right and then wait a second for the image to appear from the right angle.

In a perfect system, the time taken between moving your head and the display responding should be no more than 20 milliseconds. Make sure your virtual reality application runs fast; otherwise latency may even cause nausea.

  1. Video and graphics quality

Video and graphics quality is one of the primary drivers to the successful experience a trade show VR app can provide. Considering that VR is still in its nascent stages, gaining the best quality is often a challenge. Computer graphics, for instance, are essential, though, costly.

The top quality graphics cards and mediocre chipsets differ a lot. Image resolution (number of pixels per inch), texture mapping units that refer to video verité, clock speed along with memory capacity and bandwidth are just a few parameters that affect the graphics quality.

The edutainment VR attraction Mission Mars was initially designed to be used with the Oculus Rift headset. But then optimized – also ran on Samsung Gear VR and still offered a high graphics quality.

Presented at the interactive exhibition about the outer space exploration, the virtual reality app was experienced by more than 10 000 exhibition attendees.

Mission Mars VR

You probably wonder what the cost of building a VR app for exhibitions and trade shows is? To make it more visual let’s examine Mission Mars virtual reality application.

What is the cost of building a VR app for an event?

The cost of virtual reality depends on the chosen platform and app content.

The goal of Mission Mars was to let people walk through the simulation and explore the red planet with Oculus Rift.

To implement this virtual reality solution, the team needed two-and-a-half months which is around 2000 working hours overall.

Our VR app development team included:

  • two Unity3D developers (960 hours);
  • one quality assurance specialist (400 hours);
  • one 3D designer and one 3D animator (330 hours);
  • one project manager (250 hours);
  • one hardware specialist (40 hours);
  • one sound engineer (20 hours).

Few takeaways on how to integrate VR app at your event

Manage customers expectations. Efficient VR marketing provides meaningful branded experiences. Provide guidance and help attendees understand how it works.

Offer outstanding content. VR is the hook. And if you don’t hook attendees they’ll move on to another booth. Add a feature that can be provided only by VR. As easy as that.

Don’t let technology overwhelm your initial message. Make sure your VR demo app content is interwoven with your marketing strategy.

Keep the experience accessible. Create a separate viewing area – give attendees a glimpse of what’s going on, and they’ll want to experience it too.

Read more about VR: 

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