My Top 12 Moments from Augmented World Expo
June 1st-3rd, I had the opportunity to attend and present at the 2022 Augmented World Expo! The experience inspired and informed in new and exciting ways. And of course, came packed full of innovative colleagues in the XR space. After coming home and reflecting, I’ve compiled a list for you of my top 12 moments from AWE. I just couldn’t narrow it down to 10.
1. Keynote Presentation by Ori Inbar for the 13th year in a row
Starting on Thursday the 1st, I arrived at the San Jose airport and made my way directly to the Santa Clara Convention Center. Pillar and pioneer of the industry Ori Inbar kicked off the keynote presentation for the 13th year in a row. But this year they took it to a new level by announcing an innovative competition: A $100,000 grant for those using XR technology in service of climate change $100,000 will be given out for those using XR technology in service of reducing climate change. They’ll be announcing the winner at next year’s event, can’t wait to see what the winner (and everyone else applying) comes up with. I highly recommend following Ori and watching his session.
I moved right along to the Unity presentation given by John Riccitiello. We love Unity, using it for our show Winter Lights, but it’s always great to see companies you’re already a fan of in new and even more inspiring ways. John gave one of the best definitions for “The Metaverse” that I’ve seen or heard. He took previous definitions from leaders in our industry and distilled them down to the following:
For me, The Metaverse opens up new opportunities for us to virtually physically connect in 3D spaces. The evolution of what we know as the web, the evolution of what we know as humanity. We set out to redefine and open new boundaries that allow us as humans to form deeper both physical and virtual connections!
If you haven’t read our White Paper (may I recommend it?) we start by telling the world what we know will become possible in this new world:
“Imagine a world where you attend a Broadway show any day of the week, at a price you can afford, from anywhere across the globe and have the best seats in the house. Now imagine that the community of artists, producers and crew members who create this experience have unified to craft an ecosystem of equality where all make a living wage and issues such as disability, sexual orientation, gender, and race inequity have been reduced to a case study in the history books. Imagine that world where we celebrate rich, diverse stories accessible to everyone, inspiring generations to come in elevating humanity.”
That’s our vision for the future. We foresee endless possibilities when we unite in The Metaverse. (Too long didn’t read? Here’s the video version!)
3. SnapDragon Spaces
Continuing on our journey of my top experiences at AWE, we’ve reached the presentation by the team at SnapDragon Spaces. I found myself particularly inspired by Hugo Swart, speaking about how this team who focuses on AR in live events can empower developers like us. I walked away really excited for what's to come.
When the expo/playground opened, I also visited their booth. Their design solutions are great, and small form factor so everyone can enjoy!
4. Seeing Colleagues, Friends, Collaborators
In previous years this might not have made the list. I might’ve overlooked it, but not after the last few years. Naturally, I had some underlying concerns due to COVID. Not everyone masked up, but I did, which helped me feel safe.
I had the opportunity to meet colleagues that we’ve collaborated with virtually, which I loved. Taking the VR folks IRL throughout the day felt good after two years of seeing everyone through a screen.
Among the people I reconnected with was my friend Charlie Fink. He’s a seminal voice in the XR world, teaches at Chapman University and has the best sense of humor. We became friends through our work in the theatre world, but I also wrote a chapter in his first XR enabled book.
Friend of BroadVersity (and me) Alex Coulombe of Heavenue gave a presentation on building a live show from scratch (right up my alley!). I enjoyed seeing him speak twice over the course of the event—once at his presentation, and again on pitch day!The real funhas been watching the journey as Heavenue advances month over month, solving problems that we as an industry have been facing for years when it comes to experiencing theatre in the Metaverse. Not to mention, the guy’s super charismatic!
If you know anything about me, you know I’m not a native Tiktoker. I’m much more comfortable on Twitter (I even live tweeted the AWE event). But I have to say, I went to this event at the behest of our social media manager, and the hosts converted me! Especially Greg Feingold of Effect House—how fantastic! He showed us three pretty significant influencers who made a name for themselves with effects.
I found myself energized and inspired by what they’re doing, and actually want to join TikTok now! (Should I?!) They’ve democratized the ability for anyone to make artistic connections in a way that we at BroadVersity/Apples and Oranges have preached for as long as I can remember. They’ve made it possible for everyone to create and share in a simple, user-friendly way. The structure, the dashboard, everything for creators is intuitive—excellent work!
(P.s. here’s a little video of me visiting their booth at the playground the next day.)
Then, of course, I had to get myself a kombucha, so I took a beautiful two-mile walk to the Whole Foods nearby and then settled into my room for the night.
7. The Expo Playground
On day 2, they opened the playground part of the expo, with tons of booths to experience and folks to chat with.
What put this in the top 10 for me? Seeing how much the industry has grown since the last time I was a speaker, way back in 2017 (seems like a lifetime ago!). The number of different solution types shows how everyone has really come together, crossing disciplines to take this movement to a new level.
(To see more of my experience at the playground, visit our BroadVersity Tiktok!)
8. Magic Leap on the Main Stage
In the past there has been a lot of negative press about Magic Leap, but they’ve reinvented themselves and I have to say their new glasses are phenomenal. At the moment, they’re enterprise only (translation: expensive). My greatest hope coming away from would be seeing them create a consumer ready version. Imagine this for Broadway audiences—or live performance in general.
Meeting the folks at Disguise.One was absolutely a highlight for me. Plans are in the works to partner with them on designs for our musical Winter Lights. They’re leaders in projections for traditional theatre as it stands, but now they’re leading the way with worlds built in Unreal for film. Virtual environments are taking focus over green screening.
Their CEO Alex Wills releases a webinar on June 15th about the vision they have coming in The Metaverse, and you MUST check it out. Absolutely worth a watch. (Here’s a link, don’t miss it!)
10. 13th Annual Auggie Awards
Going strong here! The Annual Auggie Awards are now in their 13th year with no sign of slowing down. I wasn’t familiar with most of the companies up for this award, but that doesn’t remove an ounce of their greatness. Whether I was familiar with them or not, the potential, the work, and honestly, the stretch across the industry ran the gamut.
One of the winners that caught my eye was Tilt Five. I met with them and was blown away with their product, no question that I will be supporting their product as a consumer and building on top of their platform. Their whole pitch shows playing games like it’s family game night, everything feels comfortable and easy to use, it’s a real game changer *ba dum!*. Developers and users can play and interact, I’m a huge fan of what they’re doing.
OnBoardXR is a festival of short, live performances in XR. For AWE they showcased performances from the last festival. Seeing my friend Brenden Bradley (self-proclaimed “scrappy storyteller”) speak was fabulous. They’re doing wonderful work on their platform to help enable the visions of others.
12. Presenting for Broadversity!
Being back at AWE after a few years off was wonderful—I had the opportunity to present about our vision for Broadway 2030. If you’d like to hear a bit of my speech, we’ve put some clips up on our BroadVersity Instagram.
If you were there, I’d love to hear what parts of the event stuck out to you!