It’s no secret that Virtual Reality is a hit at trade shows and events. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to walk the floor of a trade show these days without seeing multiple booths sporting VR headsets. And for good reason; Virtual Reality draws people in. With the ability to instantly transport viewers away from the hustle and bustle of crowded show floors, VR is uniquely suited to immersing viewers in distraction-free worlds where brands, products, and stories are the primary focus.
Until recently, though the high cost of bringing VR activations to tradeshows and events was prohibitive for many brands.
The High Cost of VR
Our team at Subvrsive has been equipping clients with the content, applications, and hardware necessary to produce successful on-site VR activations for years. We have deployed content and custom hardware kits that run on almost every headset available, and the brands who have used them have only positive things to say. Unfortunately, though, deploying VR experiences on multiple headsets has been difficult for some companies to justify due to the cost and complexity of the VR devices on the market.
The first Virtual Reality headset to hit the market back in 2016 was the Oculus Rift. I still remember unboxing the groundbreaking headset with a sense of awe, thinking that it was going to change everything. And in many ways, it did. But it also came with a high barrier to entry in that it cost a whopping $599 and to drive it properly required some pretty hefty computer hardware. Since then, the price of the Rift has dropped, and there are some relatively affordable “Rift-ready” PCs on the market, but users wanting to deploy VR experiences are still looking at around $1200 per headset.
Samsung Gear & Google Daydream
Around that same time, the Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream headsets were also gaining popularity. Providing a mobile VR experience that waived the expensive PC in favor of a compatible Android smartphone, the headsets allowed users to experience a variety of 360 video content, VR apps, and games at a fraction of the price of the Rift. Although the price was right, these headsets had their own roadblock to mass adoption. They required compatible Samsung Galaxy or Google Pixel phones to run; devices costing between $600-900. For users already carrying them in their pockets, it was a great option. But for brands looking to deploy dozens of headsets, it was a steep investment.
A New Option: The Oculus Go
Recently, a new device has stepped up to change the game and it is quickly becoming our top recommendation for clients and partners looking to deploy multiple headsets at trade shows and events.
If you follow any amount of tech news, you have likely seen the recent buzz about the launch of Facebook’s new VR headset, Oculus Go. The Go is a completely wireless standalone VR headset that doesn’t require a computer or mobile phone to operate. And while there are plenty of reasons to love this device, perhaps the most exciting thing about it is its price point. Starting at just $199, the headset is an excellent value and a cost-effective solution for bringing Virtual Reality to tradeshows and events.
What We Think of Oculus Go
Oculus Go includes everything you need to start viewing VR content right out of the box. With 32GB of internal storage, the headset runs what appears to be a reskinned and updated version of the Gear VR operating system and is compatible with most Gear VR applications. The image is nice and sharp and the lenses are among the best we’ve tested in terms of sharpness and aberrations. The Go even has pretty decent stereo speakers built into the head strap that work surprisingly well with spatial audio. Not exactly headphones, but they direct the sound right into your ear so it sounds like you’re wearing open-back headphones. And if more volume or isolation is required, there is a headphone jack for standard headphones.
Aside from performance, we were also excited to see that our initial tests showed a significantly better battery life than our Galaxy S7s in a Gear VR. And the overheating issues that plagued many Gear VR users don’t seem to be present with the Go. While it won’t last you a full day with constant use, it does allow for fewer trips to the charger and more reliability – a major plus for anyone looking to demo content for hours on end.
With all that said, it’s safe to call the Oculus Go the Gear VR killer. Its superior performance and extremely low cost make it a real contender for anyone looking for a scalable VR option for live event activations.
The Bottom Line
VR’s potential to elevate brand experiences at tradeshows and events is one of the main reasons our team at Subvrsive is so excited about the launch of Oculus Go. Offering a similar experience to Samsung’s Gear VR without the need for a smartphone, the new device is going to change the game for companies wanting to leverage VR at events and trade shows.
Header photo by Collision Conf.