July 01, 2017
Innovations in visual technologies and virtual immersion experiences hold enormous potential for business programs. 

Those high-tech headsets that have rocked the gaming world have the meeting industry at attention, too. They're the gateway to virtual and augmented reality experiences that can engage, educate, and entertain MICE program attendees in exhilarating new ways-when they are employed effectively.

First, it helps to know the fundamentals of this rapidly expanding field. Virtual reality, or VR, offers a completely immersive experience for participants. Headset wearers engaged in VR feel completely transported to an entirely different world in which they can interact physically in a way that feels real. That means from their seat in the hotel meeting room or place on the tradeshow floor they can be whisked away to-well, anywhere. For simulation situations-a surgery room, science lab, manufacturing plant, or an airplane cockpit, for example-VR can be hugely beneficial.

Augmented reality, or AR, is more about layering 3D enhancements over the real life here and now. Participants at a conference still see that conference, but as people or objects come into the viewing area of their headsets, enhancements can be programmed in, such as in-depth information cards that pop up about other attendees or video "walls" from sponsors that tradeshow-goers could encounter while roaming the convention center floor. 

There are, however, some very exciting visual technologies rocking the meetings industry that do not require the use of personal headsets for all participants. Among them: 3-D projection mapping, by which solid-form visuals are cast via lighting into a room. That means logos can become sensational centerpieces and background scenery can envelop banquet guests in a whole new world. Add in changes in temperature, scents, and sounds, and the experience becomes an ultimate multisensory exploratory experience-much like Epcot Center's new Soaring Around the World attraction, by which riders fly over the Great Wall of China and through the mist coming off of Sydney's harbor in an experience that feels nothing short of real. 

Here, some more ways visual tech innovations can enhance business programs:
• Virtual scavenger hunts and obstacle courses as informative and exhilarating teambuilding activities
• Fun "experience stations" by which attendees can virtually climb Mount Everest or even explore outer space
• Virtual demonstrations of products that are too bulky to ship-such as yachts, helicopters, or machinery
• Exciting information roll-outs, like revealing the next incentive trip destination via a virtual travel experience instead of a brochure
• Out-of-this-world incentive program destinations, like Disney Animal Kingdom's World of Avatar attraction with bioluminescent elements and mountains that appear to float in the sky

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