How Mixed Reality Experiences Boost Viewer Engagement, Now and in the Long Term

Although technology has been an ever-present constant in our lives for some time, pre-pandemic it was used as a way to support or enhance experiences. Before Covid-19 the ability to limit screen time was our choice, and most of us would have been hard-pressed to imagine living so much of our lives through a device, but now we barely bat an eyelid when participating in online gym class or sharing a glass of wine over Zoom. While these changes may have been a necessity, fans of live events are eagerly awaiting their chance to attend a concert or go to a match in person.

By late April 2020, 83 million event attendees were affected by the cancellation or digitization of live events. These figures present a huge opportunity for media companies to step up and fill the gap that still remains in the events industry. Despite huge demand, it’s unlikely that large-scale open events and gatherings will be permitted soon. But, by providing an affordable and accessible mixed reality experience to viewers, media companies will be able to take fans to much-missed events, all the while generating a new revenue stream that promises to endure post-pandemic.

Let’s take a closer look at how media solutions can transform the way we experience events in 2021 and beyond.

What is mixed reality anyway?

Mixed reality is the most recent evolution of virtual experience technologies, but let’s recap what these are, before we get any further:

  • Virtual Reality (VR) is a fully immersive experience in which users interact with a digital environment. VR requires a headset and is often combined with handheld devices.

  • Augmented Reality (AR) places virtual objects in the physical world. Users most often use a smartphone to reveal the digital experience around them.

  • Mixed Reality (MR) takes augmented reality further by anchoring these digital objects in place so that users can interact with both virtual and digital at once.

Mixed reality has applications in education, design, remote working, and importantly for media companies—entertainment. In the world of entertainment, mixed reality can be applied in several different ways. For example, Microsoft HoloLens headsets allow viewers to manipulate and interact with holograms that are projected onto their physical surroundings.

But a more affordable and accessible way to enjoy mixed reality for at-home viewers is with cardboard VR glasses that interact with a set-top box. As the majority of people have such devices already, all that remains is for media companies to create an unmissable MR experience. But what exactly do these blended events look like in practice?

How do we make sure we never miss out on anything?

Implementing mixed reality experiences in the entertainment industry has a very positive impact on the lives of many people. Applying MR to live events will allow users to attend without traveling to any destination or even leaving their homes.

This opportunity presents a permanent solution to the current limitations set by the pandemic. MR participation in sporting events can also connect users to events that would have been out of their budget or local area before the pandemic, opening up providers up to even more potential customers. Big players like Sky are already betting on MR for the future: Sky Worlds lets VIP customers watch Premier League matches in a whole new way. It includes different features to change perspectives on a football game, interact with players’ information on screen, or switch from a viewer position to an entirely virtual setting only for the most exciting moments.

The same goes for music, as fans all over the world have missed out big time not being able to go to live concerts or music festivals during the pandemic. MR enhances their experience and allows them to enjoy their favorite bands and singers without being surrounded by hoards of people. They can now watch the entire event from their homes through any device and wear the VR headset to have a fully immersive experience during their favorite songs.

Some artists and entertainment companies have taken the lead on the MR events, giving their fans a new way to connect with them. Post Malone celebrated Pokemon’s 25th anniversary with a virtual concert featuring numerous characters from the animated series. Tidal and Oculus partnered to create VR concerts with Charli XCX as the first star to perform in the concert series. Spotify has also joined the movement leveraging partnerships with Songkick and Ticketmaster to list virtual events in the platform.

Media companies, event organizers and performers themselves have an incredible opportunity to connect with their fans and access profitable campaigns. An MR experience also opens the door to new customers as organizers aren’t limited by the size and location of the venue any longer. Users from all over the globe have shown enthusiasm to pay an affordable ticket in exchange for an immersive experience that has become the next best thing to being there in person.

As the current pandemic has made it necessary to become increasingly agile and adaptable, media companies need to embrace these new formats and avoid being left behind. Companies like intive have specialized in making it easier for enterprises considering the implementation of these technologies. Equipped with skilled interaction designers and vast engineering experience, intive can support the product concept and create tailored MR and media solutions for every company.

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