The topic of virtual reality (VR) and its use in the meeting/event industry first popped up in comments to MPI’s Meetings Outlook survey several years ago. A mere blip. Mentions have grown little by little since then, so this quarter several questions specifically about VR were included in the survey. While the immersive technology isn’t yet taking over, more and more industry professionals are experiencing it—and such first-hand experience is essential for the proliferation of VR as that’s the best way to truly understand its uses and potential.
Have you had a VR experience in the past 12 months?
While most meeting/event professionals have not experienced VR in the past year, the percentage who have used VR recently (36%) is generally in line with the general population of adults (41%) who report an interest in trying VR (according to a 2018 Google consumer survey).
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What was the nature of your VR experience(s)?
32% 360-degree video
21% First-person experience (“walking” around and viewing a virtual world)
15% Interactive environment (similar to “first person” but users can also interact with virtual objects)
12% 3D content creation (e.g. painting or building in VR)
10% Riding on rails (guided through a virtual environment, only able to look around; e.g. rollercoaster)
9% Social VR (interacting in real time with other users while in a shared virtual space; e.g. VR chat)
Understandably, 360-degree video is the most common VR experience reported. This is a very accessible segment—the most affordable type of VR experiences to create, easy entry for VR newbies or those without video game navigational experience and supported by every brand/style of VR hardware. The following video was shot in 360 outside of San Diego Comic Con–you don’t need a VR headset to experience this, either, just click and drag on the screen while viewing the video.
What brand of VR headset or system did you use?
47% Mobile phone-based (e.g. Google Cardboard, Google Daydream, GearVR)
24% Oculus Go
15% Oculus Rift
3% HTC Vive
3% Oculus Quest
3% Samsung HMD Odyssey
This is completely in line with expectations. For several years, inexpensive VR headsets that use a mobile phone for the display and computing power have introduced many to the basics of the technology. This is the most widespread and accessible type of VR headset available and, in fact, the platform I used to demonstrate the technology while speaking at Forum Eventos in Brazil in 2015. The Oculus Go (late 2017) lowered the bar of entry to slightly more immersive VR ($199, wireless, with a controller, but otherwise on par with a mobile phone experience)—so a strong showing here makes sense. Expect the new Oculus Quest (released in late May) to create more VR converts than any headset to date, given that it’s the first high-end, standalone, wireless headset with six degrees of freedom/movement (and a controller for each hand)—and has been perpetually sold out since going on sale at the relatively affordable starting price of $399.
To explore more findings from the summer 2019 Meetings Outlook report, read the full report.