The Future of Events with Anne-Marie Enns & Kris Kolo from the VR/AR Association
Future of the Metaverse
Events have changed a lot in the last few months. Organizations are pivoting and exploring new formats including virtual reality and augmented reality. In this episode, Cathy talks with Anne-Marie Enns and Kris Kolo of the VR/AR Association about the future of events and their upcoming VR/AR Global Summit, that's taking place from Sept. 30-Oct. 2.
Bringing the XR World Together at the VR/AR Global Summit, with Executive Director Anne-Marie Enns
XR for Business
Alan, along with his wife Julie, are members of the VR/AR Association, and as such, one of the annual XR gatherings they look forward to most is the VR/AR Global Summit in Vancouver, which is just a few weeks away (Oct 31-Nov 2). Alan has the event’s executive producer, Anne-Marie Enns, on to talk about what attendees can expect on the show floor this year. Alan: Welcome to the XR forBusiness Podcast with your host, Alan Smithson. Today’s guest is agreat friend of mine, Anne-Marie Enns, the executive producer of theVR/AR Global Summit, coming to Vancouver, Canada, October 31st toNovember 2nd. And I am super excited to announce that both my wifeJulie and myself will be speakers at it, and it’s hosted by the VR/ARAssociation, which we are also members. She’s served as the executiveproducer for the show for two years and previously was the producerof the CVR, the Consumer VR Show, also hosted in Vancouver. She’s thefounder of Pulled In Productions, a live event production companythat specializes in tech events and live productions. You can learnmore about the VR/AR Global Summit by visiting vrarglobalsummit.com.Duh. Anne-Marie: [chuckles] Alan: We’re here now withAnne-Marie. Thanks for joining me. Anne-Marie: Thanks so much forhaving me, Alan. Alan: I’m super excited for twothings. One, to come and see everybody in Vancouver and two, to findout who else was gonna be there speaking at this. So let’s get intoit. Tell everybody what is the VR/AR Global Summit, and what can theyexpect from this? Anne-Marie: Well, the VR/ARGlobal Summit is going into its second year, and it is two days thatare jam packed full of amazing industry speakers, workshops, speeddating, great events, amazing exhibits and demos. And so it is just*the* show to go to if you’re looking for great content, greatconversations and awesome networking in a beautiful location. Alan: I have been a guestspeaker at your conference for a couple of years now, and I can tellyou — for the people listening — there’s two conferences that I —or three, I guess — that I look forward to every year: AWE, which isby far the most impactful augmented reality conference, and thattakes place every year in San Francisco, and now there’s going to beone in Munich. But then there’s the Virtual Reality, Toronto; VRTO:That one is a small but very powerful group. And the Global Summit iskind of like taking both of those. Where you’ve got this small,intimate group talking about the future of technology. Then you’vegot AWE, which is very kind of enterprise focused, how to make money?And you bring those two together and you’ve got this global summit.And it’s just incredible because it feels like a small conference,even though it’s not small, it feels like a small conference becauseeverybody there is super passionate. They’re willing to share theirexperiences. What can we expect from the speakers this year? Anne-Marie: Sure. Well, we’vegot so many amazing speakers this year, and we take a lot of time tocarefully curate who goes on our stage. So it takes us a while to getthat program launched. But we’ve got some amazing people this year,both in the enterprise side — so talking about training — we’ve gota whole defense and government sector that’s happening at the eventthis year, a couple hours of that. We’ve got beautiful immersiveartists and people working in immersive storytelling that are coming.So we’ve got Lenovo, Niantic, MasterCard, HP, Forbes, a whole bunchof great of the big name companies. But then we’ve also got beautifulartists that are coming, like Nancy Baker Cahill, and a beautifulvoice, Galit Ariel, who’s from Toronto, who was a TEDWomen speaker.Yourself, Julie, we’ve got people from Viacom, we’ve got people fromHasbro. There’s a lot of really interesting, diverse voices happeningat the event. We try to balance it with names that you know and withnames that you’re going to know after you come to the summit. Alan: Let’s go through this.There’s so many great speakers coming. You’ve got somebody fromMasterCard. What are they doing in AR and VR? Anne-Marie: So they have takentheir training globally into VR and AR with their staff. And sothey’re talking about how they’re– they started small with that, butnow it’s a global entity, and how that changes when you’re going fromdifferent country to country, and what they’re doing. So they’respeaking about that. We’ve got people that are talking about sportsand fitness in VR and AR this year, from FORM Swim and YUR Fitness,so VR in training for your body, which is great. Yeah, there’s allkinds of great people coming to speak this year. Alan: Sergio from Hasbro’s gonnabe there. What is Hasbro doing in VR and AR? Anne-Marie: They’re doing somegreat things with toys for kids, mostly in the AR realm anddeveloping educational apps with their toys and without their toys,really working on some STEM programming as well. So he is reallyinteresting and they have got a lot of new things that they’ll belaunching at the summit as well. Alan: I’m scanning through that— if you guys want to take a look, it’svrarglobalsummit.com/speakers — and I’m scrolling down. Of course,there’s familiar faces like Charlie Fink. And then there’s Amy Peckand there’s — who’s there? — Cathy Hackl. These are people that ifyou’re in the industry at all, you’ve seen these names come up. Butthen there’s a whole host of people that are kind of new, and up andcoming. And it’s really, really exciting. Martina from the WXR Fundand Amy from the WXR Fund — that’s the Women’s XR Fund — that arereally promoting women entrepreneurs in the space. I think it’swonderful that they’re doing that. You’ve got Jeff Olm, Alex Sniderfrom Patio Interactive. It’s like a host of incredible people, JohnCunningham from DiSTI. Who else is there? Oh, it’s everybody! JohnMc– Jason McDowall from The AR Show, I was on his show. NathanPettyjohn, who was the founder of VR/AR Association. Who else? I’mjust going down the list, this is an incredible list of people. Anne-Marie: Well, then we’ve gotpeople like Kavya Pearlman, who are doing the XR Security Initiative,talking about ethics and security in VR and AR, and she’s amazing.She’s a top 30 under 30. And Dr. Uma Jayaram from Travancore, whojust got bought out by Intel Sports. So they’ll be talking aboute-sports and VR and AR. And then we’ve got Renée Stevens and Amy LouAbernathy, who are both talking about education and diversity andinclusion. There’s beautiful storytellers that are coming to talkabout that. So it’s really– so there’s one stage that’s enterprise,and one stage that’s immersive. And then another stage on Saturdaythat’s all about defense and government. So really, it coversbasically everything you could ever want to know about VR and AR.It’s great. It’s great. I’m super excited. Alan: Teppei Tsutsui. Anne-Marie: Yep. Anne-Marie: From GRF, or theGREE Fund. He’s actually gonna be on my podcast in about an hour fromnow. Anne-Marie: Oh, awesome! Howexcellent! Alan: [laughs] Yeah! Anne-Marie: Small world. [laughs] Alan: Jesse Damiani from VRFocus, just like– this is gonna be like a big family gathering ofawesome people that are passionate, that are really just rolling uptheir sleeves and doing stuff in this industry. So I’m super excitedfor this. It’s really amazing. Is Ross Finman from Niantic speakingas well? Anne-Marie: He is. So he is oneof our keynotes on Friday. So we’re super excited to have him, andwhat they’re talking about. And then Matt [Miesnieks] from 6D.ai. Oh,there’s just so many good people. And Jimmy Vainstein, who’s speakingfrom World Bank and how they’re helping to change the world, anddocument what they’re working on with World Bank through VR and ARand storytelling through that. And then there’s a couple of surprisesthat aren’t even up there yet, that will be launched this week, thatare really cool, that I’m super excited for. Alan: So we’ve talked about thepeople that are gonna be there, which is literally the most importantpart. But let’s talk about what are some of the demos that you guysare going to have there, because I think seeing VR and AR is the keyto all this. So what are some of the things that we’re gonna be ableto to try, and touch, and play with? Anne-Marie: Oh, there’s so manygreat demos. Alan: We really just want toplay with toys. Come on, let’s be honest. Anne-Marie: We want to– [chuckles] What am I excited about, though? I don’t know, everything.I always get lost in the exhibitor room. Lenovo’s bringing a greatexhibit this year, you’ll get to try out all of their fun stuff.Archiact just did a great AR experience with Marvel, so that’ll bethere and, we’ll be able to experience that and engage with some ofthe awesome Marvel characters. We’re going to have great gamingcompanies. There are a lot of different headsets going on. It’s goingto be great. There’ll be a lot of things to try. DreamcraftAttractions — who are from Canada, but have never really exhibitedin Canada — they do great gaming and attraction based VR, so they’llbe there for the first time. So there’s lots of great things. A lotof local companies, a lot of really interesting startups. And thenwe’ve got workshops too. Alan: Oh, tell me about theworkshop! That’s important. Anne-Marie: Magic Leap’s doing aworkshop. HTC with Vinay [Narayan], who’s always wonderful. Amazonwill be there talking about Sumerian, and then a couple other withimmersive storytelling and volumetric capture, that will be announcedthis week too. So I’m excited for those. Alan: Incredible. I knowvolumetric capture’s starting to heat up, with Verizon acquiringJaunt and ooh, it’s getting crazy! Anne-Marie: [laughs] It’sgetting fun! Alan: One of my interviews todaywas with Michael Mansouri from Radiant Images. And they’re reallypioneering some work in photogrammetry, volumetric capture, and lightfield capture as well. So, very interesting. Anne-Marie: Cool. Alan: Holy moly. There’s just somuch to unpack here. There’s Telus, Facebook, Siemens, Raytheon,Viacom, Microsoft, Lenovo, Niantic, Canadian Tire. It’s just– [soundof mind being blown] You know, it’s nuts. There’s so many companiesthat are part of this. What are some of the challenges that you’vehad with bringing this together? Anne-Marie: I think always thechallenge is just trying to fit this all into two days. Literally,you could have stages upon stages and days upon days of topics andinteresting people. We had so many amazing people applied to speakthat we just couldn’t fit in. So I think it’s narrowing it down. It’salso trying to give people the quality that they want and the currenttopics, because the topics change so quickly in this industry. Sowhat we started talking about last year is either no longernecessarily relevant or where it was or what’s going on. So it’s justtrying to make the most up-to-date, current, exciting show that wecan when it’s changing so dramatically daily, with companies beingbought out and everything. It’s just– that’s probably the hardestpart, is containing what we have, because we can do this for days,really. Alan: Yeah. It’s– you know, ifyou go back kind of three or four years, the news would come out onceevery two days or we’d like, okay, here’s some VR news. It would be acouple of things. It’s coming out every couple of hours now. Anne-Marie: Yeah. Yeah. And youknow, it’s funny because I’ve been doing a show like this for threeyears, and the topics, what’s relevant and what’s not changes monthto month. Alan: Okay, what was relevant ayear ago, that’s no longer today? Anne-Marie: Well, this year wefound that we are getting a lot of people applying to speak about–it’s basically getting down and dirty into it, like we’re doing thetraining, this is what’s working, and we’re in it. And when I’ve beendoing that for the two years prior, it was a lot about where’s theindustry going, and that. Like that hockey stick curve of where youmight be and what’s going on. Alan: Everybody with the hockeystick curve! Anne-Marie: I’m like, “No,hockey stick curve!” But now it’s the people that are reallyinto it, and working into it, and what is actually going on in it,rather than theory. Like it’s at practical application. So a lot ofit, when we were looking for practical applications two years ago, itwasn’t quite there. And now that’s everything that we thought. So alot of enterprise training, a lot of especially military and defense.We’ve got a lot of people talking about that. And then the quality instorytelling and content that goes with that, not just the demand forit, but the actual delivery of it now. So it’s just a reallyinteresting conversation to see how it’s grown and changed. Alan: So three years ago — or Iguess four years ago — there was a couple of companies, Greenlightand some other companies that made these crazy, wild, outlandish betson the size of the market. And most of them were wrong by a largemargin. What are we seeing now? Are we seeing more pragmatic kind ofpredictions for the future? What are we seeing in the next fiveyears? Anne-Marie: I mean, just basedon what I read and podcasts like yours and chatting with you andstuff like that, I think– I don’t know. I think it’s the down anddirty applications of it. I think people are into it. I don’t thinkanyone’s looking for that huge, exciting growth that was predictedfive years ago. Alan: [laughs] We’re not lookingto get rich. We’re just looking to get shit done. Anne-Marie: Yeah. And that’swhat it is: it’s getting shit done. And that’s what a lot of peopleare doing, and putting their heads down and doing it. And the peoplethat are doing gaming are doing gaming so well, and the people thatare doing enterprise are doing enterprise really well. And I thinkthat a lot of people are trying to do a lot of things, but it’s morestreamlined. And the people doing beautiful artwork are– they reallygot an issue for it now. And you can make money off of it, you can dothose things. And I think people are getting really creative in it,as opposed to just trying to jump on the bandwagon. I think thatpeople that didn’t really see the potential of it are gone a littlebit. And those that are really into it, and dove into it, and love itare persisting and making great things. But that’s just my personalexperience. [laughs] That’s just what I see. Alan: I think you’re absolutelyright. You’re seeing people kind of drop off of this, and people thatgot into it for the shiny penny are really falling off, because it’shard to build something of value in any industry, especially in anindustry that’s emerging, where there’s sometimes no answers. You’relike, “Okay, how do we do this?” And people are like, “Idon’t know. Nobody’s done it. So how do we do it?” Anne-Marie: But you look atpeople coming, like the guys that are– the two people that arecoming from Patio, which is a cannabis company. So when you’retalking to them like, so cannabis is new. You can’t hire anyoneworking in marketing and training and sales that’s worked in cannabisbefore, like you can kind of take from similar, like alcoholcompanies or whatever. But it is a different thing. So they’re usingVR and AR in training in a whole new industry that never even existedtwo years ago. Alan: Absolutely, and we have– Anne-Marie: That’s the peoplethat are creative and innovative about it, because everything they’redoing is creative and innovative. And that’s exciting. Alan: Yeah, e’ve actually workedwith Charlie and his team at Patio over the years, and they do greatwork. They’ve been really pioneering the cannabis space. We actuallydid a project — that will never see the light of day, unfortunately— we filmed the world’s largest cannabis facility in VR, in 360. Anne-Marie: Oh, cool. Alan: Yeah, it was amazing.800,000 square foot cannabis facility. So you’re in VR and you’restanding amongst the trees. And yeah, it was beautiful. Butunfortunately, it’ll never see the light of day, because the client–it was under lock and key, so… But yeah, they do some amazing work.They’ve done some really interesting work in photogrammetry of thebuds and really bringing them to life in AR as well, which is prettycool. And then taking that, which, you know, it’s really cool to seea bud in AR. But what’s the point? So what they’ve done is they getin a little bit further and said, “OK, well, let’s use it toeducate consumers about this.” And I think that’s really cool.And recently they just did this really cool thing with wink cannabiswhere they they 3D projection mapped a sign. And while it’s not kindof VR or AR, it is really still the same technologies that we’reusing, the 3D map, and they 3D mapped a sign that says “wink.”And it just– it looks really cool in an event. It’s really supercool. Anne-Marie: Yeah, awesome. And Ithink that’s what you’re going to see, is people taking it and goingthat one step further. Like I’m talking to some people about somegreat immersive experiences that just take it that one step beyond.And they’re exciting. They’re so great. Alan: Yeah, I actually– Lastweek I was in Orlando meeting with John Cunningham. He’s one of thementors for the XR Ignite’s platform or accelerator. And I got to goto their office and try their training demos. And a lot of thetraining they’re doing is in three dimensions, but it’s on 2D touchscreens. And even though it’s not in VR/AR, the 3D ability to turnthings around and see them from all angles, open them up. It reallydoes make a big difference. And then, of course, you know that theycan push a button and put you into VR with that. So I actually– oneof the demos I got to see was an F-18 fighter jet. And I got to putmy head in and walk around a fighter jet and open up the panels. Andthat was just mind-blowing. And then it went from an F-18 fighter jetto an HP large format printer. Anne-Marie: I think I’d stay inthat fighter jet. [laughs] Alan: It was like, the sametechnology can be applied to this. Anne-Marie: Yeah. Which isawesome, right? Alan: You get fighter jets andprinters! Crazy. Anne-Marie: [laughs] Alan: Who else is on this? JasonMcDowall, I was on his show recently, that was really exciting. Andhe runs a podcast called The AR Show, which is really incredible.Kavya Pearlman from XR Safety Initiative, they’re pioneering work inmaking sure that we do things ethically, which is really great. Whoelse is on? Tony Bevilacqua. Is he still with Cognitive3D? I thinkso. Anne-Marie: He is, yep, that’shis company, he’s been–. Alan: They’re doing analytics inVR and AR, so being able to take the analytics out of that and makesense of where people are looking, how long they interacted, all ofthese things. Anne-Marie: Yeah. Alan: Very cool. Anne-Marie: It’s awesome. Andwhat’s great to do, with it being the global summit, is we’ve gotspeakers this year that are coming from Africa, and India, and Asia,and Germany and– you know, we’re doing a European summit next year.So you’ve got the Lisbon chapter president coming, who’s great atmarketing and VR. So it’s going to to have a lot of interestingvoices as well. So not just the standard what we’re doing here or onthe west coast of North America. But what’s the VR like in Nigeria,and all over the world? And it’s really fascinating when you learnwhat they’re doing, compared to that we’re doing and how thedirection is totally different, because there’s just not thatinfluence of being here. So there is going to be a lot of reallyinteresting discussion points, and the ability to network with peoplefrom around the globe, that I think will be incredible always. Andthat’s what I really like about this event. Alan: And the best conversations— let’s be honest — they always happen at the bar afterwards,anyway. Anne-Marie: Yeah. Yeah. We dothis awesome speed dating, where you get to meet 150 people in anhour and then it launches into the cocktail bar. Alan: Oh, I love that! Thatlooks great. Anne-Marie: So we’re doing thatfor cocktail hour and then we’re doing that at breakfast the nextmorning, because it was so popular last year. Alan: So you’re doing it twice? Anne-Marie: With wine and withcoffee. So it’ll be good. Alan: Oh my god. Anne-Marie: Whatever gets yourfancy going. Alan: Can you do both? Can youdo the cocktail one day, and then do the coffee the next? Anne-Marie: Sure. It’s firstcome, first go. Alan: October 31st is coming upreally quick. October 31st to November 2nd is the Vancouver VR/ARGlobal Summit. Is it too late for sponsors to come on board, orexhibitors? Anne-Marie: No. We still have afew exhibitor spaces, because we opened up a bit of a different area.So we’ve still got space for that, which would be amazing. And wealways welcome sponsors. We do custom proposals for everyone. So it’snot just, you know, “here’s your money and here’s a logo,”but you can let me know what you’re looking for to get out of it. AndI can help to custom something for you. It’s not too late. There’s somuch great exposure available on site and during and after the eventthat we can help with, because of VR/AR keeps going all year. Itdoesn’t just stop at the summit. So there’s great opportunities forthat. And of course, ticket sales, I mean, we’ve got ticket types forfull conference passes, if you can come Saturday only, if you justwant to check out the exhibits, if you’re a student, there’s allkinds of great opportunities at any price point. Startups to beinvolved with the summit, and it’s never too late to come on board.We welcome everyone. Alan: How much are tickets? Anne-Marie: If you’re a memberthere, $4.99. If you’re a non-member, I believe they are $7.99, US. Alan: That’s full conferencepass? Anne-Marie: That’s fullconference pass. So that’s all the workshops, it’s all the parties,it’s all the talks. And then there’s startup passes and studentpasses, and you can find them all on the website, listed on thefront. Alan: And then, so I’ve got toread this quote, “The VR/AR Global Summit is one of the year’smost anticipated conferences. It attracts a broad internationalcross-section of thought leaders, enterprise executives,entertainment companies and developers for an intense two days ofpanels, demos and networking.” And I’m assuming — because itsays Forbes — I’m assuming that’s a quote from Charlie Fink. Anne-Marie: It is, it is. Alan: Alright. So you have here,“With over 230 companies active in VR and AR, Vancouver is thesecond largest immersive ecosystem in the world. This is the fourthtime the show is happening in Vancouver. And this year’s summit willhave a strong focus on enterprise and AR, as well as immersiveinteractive design.” And here, I just got to read some of thebrands that are participating in the summit. You got MasterCard,Hershey’s, Verizon, Boeing, Wal-Mart, Viacom, Siemens, Raytheon,Telus, Apple, Lenovo, Google, HP, Facebook, AWS, Varjo, Accenture,Pico, Magic Leap, Vive, RE’FLEKT, Patio Interactive, BGC, Dreamcraft,DiSTI, 8th Wall, Stryker, Atheer, Sector Five Digital, World BankGroup, Naval Information Warfare Center, Invest Canada, LethbridgeCollege, The Time, Fortune, Forbes. This is going to be an incredibleevent. How many people are you anticipating this year? Anne-Marie: We’re looking to doabout 1,000 to 1,500. That’s– our space is small, but it’s sointimate and it’s great. So we’re just yeah, we’re just excited tohave those people come and join us. It’ll be awesome. Alan: This is so cool, I can’twait for this. I’m really, really getting excited and I gotta figureout what I’m going to talk about. Anne-Marie: I know we have totalk about it. Alan: Awesome. Really lookingforward to it. I think this is gonna be a great opportunity for notonly for people to learn about the industry, but also to meet newfriends and really embrace the entire ecosystem of VR and AR in aplace where we can talk business, but also let our hair down and kindof get to know each other from a personal standpoint. I think this isa great opportunity. From anybody around the world, if you happen tohave a couple of free days, October 31st to November 2nd, Vancouver,the VR/AR Global Summit and its vrarglobalsummit.com. Is thereanything else you want to share with everybody? Anne-Marie: I think that’s all.I’m just looking forward to seeing everyone there. And thank you,Alan, for having me on your show. I super appreciate it. Alan: It is my absolutepleasure. I’m super looking forward to seeing you in — oh my God —a couple weeks. Anne-Marie: I know. [laughs]
Tyler and Sophia cover all the exciting announcements for the upcoming VRARA Global Summit with The VR/AR Association’s executive team, Kris Kolo and Anne-Marie Enns. Connect with Kris & Ann-Marie Kris Kolo @kriskolodziej Ann-Marie Enns @eventgirl101 Visit the VR/AR Association at www.TheVRARA.com for more information about how you can get involved with this worldwide organization to help gain exposure and share ideas and best practices with other experts in the industry. Subscribe to the podcast wherever podcasts are found or listen to past interviews at www.TheVRARA.com/podcast
Anne-Marie Enns, Executive Producer of the VR/AR Global Summit, shares with us the inside scoop on what to expect at the Global Summit conference, taking place in Vancouver on September 21-22 2018 at the PARQ Hotel & Casino. We talk about speakers, topics, workshops, the startup pitchfest, business speed dating, after-parties and more. This is a fun discussion on the excitement around VR/AR, Vancouver and the global leaders coming together. To connect with Anne-Marie about exhibiting or sponsoring at the VR/AR Global Summit, reach out at email@example.com or visit http://www.thevrara.com/vr-ar-global-summit/.