Karishma Chandra, or Kiki as she prefers to be called, is a die-hard fan of K-pop. This young schoolgirl has devoured this genre of music for years, following up on the stars’ personal lives through online fan groups. Attending a live concert, however, always seemed a distant dream, until the pandemic made it possible.
In December 2021, Kiki specially created a Facebook profile for herself (believing this ancient social media platform unworthy of her attention earlier) and tuned in from her Gurugram home to the massive FB4FANS augmented reality (AR) concert. Celebrities and artists from across Thailand, Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Australia were performing on virtual stages and animated sets in this exclusive event open to a global audience.
For Kiki, the opportunity to attend real-time performances on animated stages, see her favourite creators up close, and interact with other fans on an immersive virtual reality platform, was an enthralling experience.
In 2022, with the world going virtual, mega-events like concerts, conferences, trade shows, award ceremonies, and product launches have had to switch gears in order to survive. They have done this by adopting the best-in-class virtual technology.
“The new normal led to an increase in demand for creative content in animation, AR, VR (virtual reality), virtual conferences, digital and web design services. AR is taking the world of communication design by storm. With further improvements in software, hardware, cost sensitivity, and accessibility, it is only a matter of time before AI (artificial intelligence), AR, VR, and more intense hyper-reality interactions become a part of everyone’s daily life,” asserts Mumbai-based Prateek Sethi, Creative Communication Designer and the Founder of Trip Creative Services, one of the firms that worked on the FB4FANS concert.
There is no denying that AR/VR has touched almost every sphere of life, in ways we never thought possible before. Virtual shopping assistants on apps and websites aid the trial of items on one’s body before purchase; virtual beauty assistants pick the exact shades and finishes of makeup most suitable to particular skin colours and types; virtual art galleries facilitate the imagining of an artwork placed on walls, and virtual interior decoration services show different wallpapers and décor to change the look
and feel of homes.
Corporate and educational institutions have adopted AR/VR readily for a smooth transition to a post-pandemic world. “Technology is capable of anything—conferences, orientation programs, convocation ceremonies. Even intricate medical procedures and surgeries are streamed on various platforms,” shares Naina Kukreja,
Head of Events at Delhi-based company ShowCase. Kukreja asserts that event companies had to pivot to a 2D/3D and on-ground hybrid model.
Adopting the principle of ‘Digital Twinning’, this technology is creatively used to simulate real-time experiences. Engagement activities between sessions are facilitated through breakout rooms where participants’ digital avatars interact with each other; business cards are exchanged digitally; and even downtime—an essential aspect of the outstation conference experience—can be simulated through engagement activities like attending comedy shows, playing games, doing karaoke, or hanging out in a café or bar with others.
A person’s active participation in events can be measured in terms of points allotted on leader boards, encouraging others to make their presence felt too. The hybrid experience has made anything possible.
Launches of cars and other products have also benefited from this transition to a virtual medium, as the audience is privy to a 360-degree view of a product.
Metadome is a deep tech startup that leverages AR to facilitate the transition from digital to virtual. They have experience in the automotive industry and claim that their expertise lies in creating 24*7 virtual showrooms, 3D product configurations, and life-sized AR product experiences.
However, as with anything new, AR/VR technologies come with some challenges. Kanav Singla, Founder, and CEO, Metadome, shares that ensuring compatibility of AR/VR with all smartphones across the spectrum is quite a task, as is dealing with the significantly reduced rendering quality when 3D models are compressed.
Further, a number of AR solutions are not compatible on both iOS and Android platforms. However, keeping in mind the tremendous pace of technological change, it won’t be long before everyone jumps on the bandwagon; digital avatar in tow.
Popular Virtual Experiences
✥ Convocations and orientation programmes for educational institutions
✥ Concerts and fairs
✥ Product launches
✥ International industry conferences
✥ Fashion and beauty shopping experiences
✥ Art galleries
✥ Home décor and interiors
Challenges of AR/VR Experiences
✥ Lack of compatibility with all mobiles
✥ Reduction in rendering quality when the model is compressed
✥ Incompatibility with both iOS and Android systems
✥ Transferring large file sizes
✥ Need for back-up of high speed internet in case something goes wrong