Virtual reality can transform the exhibit experienceBy Andy Hunt, Executive Creative Director, Digital at Godfrey

The introduction of new marketing technologies always opens up a green field of possibilities to engage audiences. But there's a balance to make sure that the message isn't overshadowed by the technology or that the tech isn't used just for the sake of following a trend.

With the growing popularity of virtual reality (VR), we saw an opportunity to work with AEM member JLG Industries to leverage a new technology and create an amazing trade show experience.

At a recent show, JLG was launching the world's largest self-propelled boom lift. For such a statement product, we needed to develop a companion booth experience that helped to extend the messaging of the product and supporting services. We believed VR was the right technology to do this.

Raising the Bar by Taking Visitors to New Heights

VR would allow us to do the impossible. We'd be able to take visitors up to a height of 185 feet in the lift at an indoor show. Because VR is so immersive, we  wanted to give visitors the feeling of being at such a height, something not practically possible, giving them a unique experience for a product introduction.

But VR could also be used to tell a larger story beyond just the product. We could not only put them behind the controls of the lift, but also put them on the proving grounds where the machines are tested; take a behind-the-scenes look into the activities of their expansive training bay; and have a seat in their hands-on classroom. All without leaving the show floor.

The headset is also part of the storyThe headset used to feature the experience was also used as part of the story.

While there are plenty of commercially available VR headsets, we wanted JLG to make their own custom-printed 3D headset. Because they use 3D printing as part of their design and development processes, we felt this would be an ideal opportunity for customers to hear that story in addition to the VR experience. Our artists worked with their Industrial Design team to produce a headset that was representative of the JLG brand and felt like a natural fit alongside the machinery on display.

The Dawn of a New Era

An attractive attribute of virtual reality is its transportive nature. Short of physically being in a location, great VR can communicate a sense of place and position as good as, if not better than, any other medium. Why tell if you can show? Why show if you can experience? In our line of work, this translates into: What kind of trade show experience can we create with it?

We’re excited about how much virtual reality adds to the conversation. And we’re only just getting started. As more products and services enter this space, we’ll be looking for even more ways to create unique experiences for our clients.

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