AR/VR Innovate: Escape from reality


The fact that all of this was happening in virtual space made no difference. Being virtually killed by virtual laser in virtual space is just as effective as the real thing, because you are as dead as you think you are. Douglas Adams – Mostly Harmless

In the last few decades, as technology has continued its unstoppable stride towards omnipresence, one faction seems to have remained on the fringes: the world of virtual reality (VR) and augmented/mixed reality (AR). But times are changing: this year's AR VR Innovate conference, held in Dublin's RDS, hosted over 30 exhibitors and 40 speakers.

The takeaway? The world of AR/VR is entering an exciting new era – and we were right on hand to find out what this means for brands across a range of industries.

To date, AR/VR hasn't played a major role in fields such as manufacturing, commercial design, or even entertainment. However, its power and potential as an immersive entertainment medium is unlike any other, with its ability to hijack the senses and transport the mind elsewhere unparalleled; even IMAX, VR's closest rival in terms of experience, comes a distant second. And while the concept of VR/AR technology has now been around for a decent stretch, it is fair to say that its most impressive applications have been confined to the world of science fiction.

With the huge computational and manufacturing requirements of the hardware in question, along with the complexity of the content creation platforms, there are quite a few hurdles to be overcome before VR and AR achieve mainstream adoption. That said, perhaps Moore's law is catching up with us and we may be, just now, starting to see the first green-shoots in the VR revolution.

Create the story, and the tech will follow

This was a recurring theme that was raised in a number of talks throughout the day. Rather than focusing on the tech itself, we need to create engaging, memorable stories, to drive the tech forward. What is an incredible headset if you have nothing to watch on it?

Aurora by Pink Kong Studios

This beautiful animated experience showcases how the use of clever animation, sound design and storytelling can create an experience that surpasses the technology. Particularly interesting is the use of 3D-projected sound within the experience to subtly guide your attention in a particular direction and allow the story to progress.

Find out more at

UNMAS Somalia landmine detection simulation

This simulation was an all-too-real simulation that mirrored the daily lives of countless aid workers around the world. This type of approach could be useful both in helping lay people to understand the treat facing UN personnel in these locations, as well as being used as a training or recruitment tool for potential candidates.

More information can be found here:

Audi and VR

Audi has been tinkering in the world of VR for many years, from creating in-store experiences to showcase their latest cars, to augmented reality tools to help mechanics to standardise their repairs processes.

Examples include the sandbox installation piece, where a pit of real sand can be crafted to create a rally track and then driven through in a VR simulation:

Also at AR VR Innovate were VStream, showcasing work they have done with Audi to demonstrate the capabilities of the latest Audi A7:

The potential of the technology

VR currently holds a unique position in the creative industry. The headsets are widely accessible and moderately easy to create content for, and yet the technology still has a wow factor for the lay user.

This presents fantastic opportunity for banding activations, whereby brands can easily create an engaging VR experience that will live with the audience member far longer than any comparable interaction of the same duration. The challenge lies in crafting a lasting story to accompany the experience, rather than just using VR for VR's sake. It might be just the path to bring your own story to life.

Eamonn Rohan is Digital Director at McCannBlue; Cian McIntyre is an Account Executive.