Augmented Reality (AR) for Events: 5 Immersive Activation Concepts

June 4, 2022

June 4, 2022

Augmented Reality

If you’re an event professional, emerging event technology is likely a hot topic amongst your peers. Now with over 1 billion (with a “B”!) people using Augmented Reality (AR) globally each month, this area of the event tech space has likely been brought up as a tool to enhance your guest experiences.  

The variety of approaches to utilizing AR, and other XR (“Extended Reality”, an all encompassing term for Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality technologies) for live events can be overwhelming. This makes it difficult for event producers to determine what is feasible to create on event budgets and timelines as well as how to craft an experience attendees will actually love using.

So, this begs the question: How do you incorporate Augmented Reality successfully into your events?    

Here we’ll outline 5 immersive AR ideas you can actually use at your events, focussing on concepts that are both approachable and entertaining for your audience. 

Augmented Reality (AR) for Events: 5 Immersive Activation Concepts

1. Instagram Augmented Reality Art Murals

Physical 2D art murals at your venue can be brought to life in 3D through Instagram’s built in Augmented Reality functionality.

Augmented Reality Art Mural
Modelo AR Experience for Constellation Brands by Groove Jones

How do Instagram AR Murals work?  First, you partner with an (often local) artist to install a physical art piece in your venue.  

Next, an Augmented Reality experience that will be triggered by the artwork is created, optimized for use on Instagram.  This experience can include 3D objects, custom animation & sound effects, as well as responsive interactivity to human movement or the physical environment. 

3D Augmented Reality Street Experience
AR Powered Mural Lens Experience via TechCrunch

Finally, a custom QR code is displayed near the artwork. When guests point their smartphone camera at this code, the AR experience automatically opens inside Instagram’s “Stories” capture mode. Guests then point their camera at the AR Mural, allowing them to experience the art in an immersive Extended Reality environment that they can immediately capture and share to their Instagram Story.

person standing in front of augmented reality art mural

While the creative possibilities are “endless”, some practical ideas for the digital AR experiences include creating fantastical worlds of geometric shapes & color, scenic environmental enhancements of the space (growing flowers, water, smoke, light etc), as well as full on hologram style 3D characters inside the experience.

3D augmented reality art murals
3D AR Art Murals via HAYP & FastCompany

Augmented Reality Instagram Mural at Art Basel 2019
Instagram AR Mural at Art Basel 2019

In addition to a fully contactless Augmented Reality experience at your event, you’re also able to access robust data sets on the engagement from your Instagram AR effect, through a custom analytics dashboard.

Instagram Augmented Reality Filter Analytics Dashboard
AR Experience Filter Analytics Dashboard

The live analytics dashboard provides insight into the engagement of your AR experience both in usage frequency as well as the impression reach on Instagram & Facebook of user generated content shared using your AR effect. On a high level, the data dashboard provides performance metrics on “Captures”(quantity of content captured with the AR effect), “Shares” (amount of those captures that were shared on Instagram), and “Impressions” (Number of views on Instagram of user generated content created using your effect).

2. Augmented Reality Event Invites

Turn your traditional event invitations into an Augmented Reality art experience by embedding an AR easter egg into the invite.

Apple Augmented Reality Event Invite Easter Egg GIF
Apple AR Easter Egg Invite via Cult of Mac

An invitation is often the first touch point a prospective attendee has with your event, and can really set the tone for the in person or online event experience to follow.  

How do Augmented Reality event invites work?  AR invites can be brought to life by sending guests a physical or digital invitation containing a trigger image.

AR App via Media Identity

First, prospective attendees scan a QR code or tap a link on their mobile device to activate the AR invite inside their mobile browser, Instagram, Snapchat, or a custom built native mobile app.  

Then, users point their smartphone camera at a marker image within a physical or email to activate the experience.  The physical invite could be a traditional premium cardstock invitation, but could also be a physical 3D prop or gift like a wooden gift box, sports ball, or other object related to the subject matter of your event.  

Lastly, users can optionally record video of their AR experience to save to their camera roll or share on social media before exiting the experience, or being automatically redirected to an event registration page like those offered by SplashThat or Bizzabo

SplashThat Virtual Event Landing Page
Virtual event splash page via SplashThat

In terms of the AR experience’s story, here are a few thought starter examples for different types of events:

Interactive 3D model as a teaser to showcase a product being launched at your event

Vehicle AR solution via Branding News

A 3D model of the product (such as a car for a new vehicle launch) could appear in the physical space for the viewer to explore, complete with animation and sound if it will add to the experience.

Augmented Reality “FaceTime” from your company’s CEO

AR Video via ARLoopa

A simple smartphone prop could be sent to guests as a part of the invitation. When guests point their own phone at the prop, it will appear as though they are FaceTiming with the CEO of the inviting company, playing through a pre recorded video session from the CEO or other talent associated with the event.

An AR Powered “Save The Date” to remember

Apple Augmented Reality Event Invite Easter Egg GIF
Apple AR Easter Egg Invite via Cult of Mac

High fidelity 3D animations can be created for an AR invitation, which can bring to life a stunning scene inside any future event guest’s home. This example from an Apple Keynote uses Lidar technology now onboard the iPhone 12 to depth map the user’s space for a more realistic 3D experience. It’s worth noting that some Tik Tok Augmented Reality effects also now make use of Lidar for more accurate experience presentation in AR.

3. A Virtual Portal Built for Your Event

Portal doorways to an entirely novel virtual world can be placed at your event using AR, combining the physical and digital world in an unexpected way.

Portal AR experience for Baylor University via Groove Jones.

Utilizing a configured augmented reality web app guests can use on their smartphones, a “digital doorway” can be anchored to a specific area within your venue.  

As users point their smartphone at the designated area, the portal will appear, allowing them to walk through it into another virtual environment designed to tell the story of the experience. 

Matrix Style Augmented Reality Portal Demo GIF
Matrix AR Portal via Reddit

Alternate worlds guests could be transported to could include a Matrix like universe, live performance, or a calming beach for a brief respite from a busy event.

4. Augmented Realty Mini Games

Augmented Reality mini games can be used to engage your audience in a fun, easy to access format that also serves to create shareable user generated content of your virtual or physical event attendees.

Instagram Augmented Reality Mini Game Experience by Post Pop Studios
Instagram AR Mini Game via Post Pop Studios

AR mini games can be brought to life in mobile browsers, but if social shareability is your goal, it’s best to deliver them to audiences by having them scan QR codes that automatically direct them to the game inside Story capture mode within Instagram or Snapchat.

Scannable QR code to trigger an AR effect experience

What are some Augmented Reality mini game ideas for your virtual or physical event?

Custom “Heads Up” Style AR Trivia

Disney Trivia Quiz Augmented Reality Mini Game for Instagram
Disney Trivia Quiz AR Effect via Instagram

Design the trivia game style however you like, and load in as many questions as you like.  Users can simply nod their head to proceed to the next trivia question, with their performance optionally recorded straight to their Instagram story if they’re brave enough to share their score.  

Score Based AR Mini Games

Users can compete against one another for the bragging rights of top score. Facial recognition tech baked into AR technology also powers the ability to play action based games inside AR environments. Users can catch bites of a snack with their mouth like this Synder’s AR Mini Game, or shoot hoops right inside their living room like in this basketball AR experience from Invesco.

Environment Based AR Mini Games

An attack of the zombies style, environment based AR mini game
An attack of the zombies style, environment based AR mini game

In the vein of popular location based AR games like Pokemon Go, creatures or characters, come to life inside an AR mini game. The games can then be designed to have players complete challenges like zapping all the bugs before time runs out, or navigating a vehicle through designated checkpoints within a specified period of time.

AR helicopter flying controller demo GIF
AR helicopter flying controller demo via YouTube.

5. Hologram Style Augmented Reality Characters

From a notable person associated with your event, to a brand mascot or other character, figure(s) can be incorporated into your AR Experience as a 3D model that can be rigged for animation.

Ezekiel Elliott AR Experience by Nexus Studios via Cartoon Brew

Characters can be created by building a custom 3D model from scratch and rigging the model for the appropriate animation, or talent can be brought into a volumetric capture studio to be recorded in 3D for compositing into the AR environment.

Volumetric capture visualization via Next Reality

The characters can lead the experience by speaking a monologue to the viewer or take part in a scene where they interact with the space. In certain use cases, users can even drag and drop 3D characters into the scene, scaling and placing them where they would like in their physical environment prior to recording video of their experience.

Whale AR demonstration by Magic Leap via YouTube

Key Takeaways on Augmented Reality Experiences for Events

With such a broad range of AR tech available, it’s important to keep the event story and end user top of mind when designing AR experiences for live environments. A few key takeaways for a successful AR activation for your event are:

  • AR experiences for events can be designed for Instagram, Snapchat, mobile browsers, or a native mobile app.  If you’re unsure what will work best for you, consult a creative technology professional. ‍

  • Ease of use is critical to a fun user outcome. When it comes to your AR user journeys, remember K.I.S.S. (Keep. It. Simple. Stupid!) ‍

  • There are a wide array of creative ways to use AR at events, and none of them are wrong or right.  At the end of the day, AR is content, so focus on storytelling and entertainment.  ‍

  • Measurement is key to validating the success of your AR experience.  Whichever technology you use, make sure appropriate tracking is onboard to report impact metrics back to the event or marketing stakeholders.

Now that you have some baseline AR concepts you can actually use at your events you can start thinking about how to use them for your next event or retail project!

Have questions or ideas you want to share? Get in touch with us @postpopstudios