“What do you see?” asks Paolo Tosolini, CEO of Tosolini Productions. We are standing in the lobby of Microsoft Studios testing out the Microsoft HoloLens.
“A hole just blew through the wall behind the receptionist’s desk!” I respond.
Paolo, an innovator of emerging media, chuckles and says, “Now what do you see?”
“There are some sort of aliens coming out of the wall and shooting lasers at me!” Paolo teaches me how to shoot back by pinching my fingers together and I proceed to not only fend off the alien attack, but I also ended up obliterating the entire reception area (receptionist unharmed).
This is like nothing I’ve ever experienced—it’s not simply virtual reality, where the player is dropped into an entirely fictional world, it’s mixed reality. I am manipulating, playing with, and blasting objects that seem to really exist around me. In this mixed reality environment, Paolo shows me a number of innovative projects he has created and continues to develop, including an interactive 3D infographic of a manufacturing floor, interactive digital signage and touch screen presentations. I came here with the intention of interviewing Paolo on his area of expertise, but the excitement of this experience has completely sidetracked me, my imagination is running wild, and we are geeking out together. My mind is racing, and I find myself spouting out ideas on how this technology could be harnessed in a live event setting. Instead of a standard interview, my visit has quickly turned into an animated and collaborative discussion on how to partner together to bring these technologies into play with speakers and audiences.
How might this technology be used to enhance the attendee experience? When meeting a person at an event, I hate that I have to look at their chest to see their name on their badge. What if there were virtual name tags projected from your contact lenses or eye glasses, next to a person’s head? Attendee data could be used to visually highlight individuals whom you should meet while providing you with a short list of conversation starters. Similar functionality already exists for smart phones, but wouldn’t it be better to keep your phone in your pocket when speaking to another person? While this may sound like a distant reality, this technology isn’t far beyond what innovators like Paolo Tosolini are building today.
What about doing away with the time and cost of the numerous site visits needed to successfully visualize and plan how the venue will be utilized from start to finish? Event planners, you know how mottled the logistical details can get. But what if you didn’t have to do site visits? What if you could build, revise, and actually experience the show you are planning in virtual reality? You and your clients could remotely collaborate to get the attendee experience just right and then share the design with the vendors that depend on this information.
We’ve already seen mixed reality product demos, but what if they could appear in front of each individual in your live event audience? With the capability for both individual and shared interaction, this could be a game changer for companies showcasing new products.
Of the more than 1.3 million events held each year, 76% do not utilize current technologies. The more that we, in the event industry, are willing to adopt emerging media strategies like mixed reality, the more dynamic and immersive our events will be. My experience with Paolo surprised and inspired me. He is an adventurous spirit with a passion for driving new innovations. We are looking for speakers and event producers who are brave enough to embrace the next frontier of storytelling through emerging media. Let’s break the mold that has grown on the same old same old.