If you’ve followed the Augmented World Expo with ARPost in the past, you know that to provide you with comprehensive coverage and commentary we release our coverage a little later. But we don’t want you to miss out on all of the excitement.
This article uses interviews conducted with AWE speakers in advance of the event. Consider it our “curtain-raiser.” We’ll be back tomorrow with all of our coverage from day one.
AWE Is Back In-Person
We know that AWE organizer Ori Inbar is excited to be back in person this year. However, the event is also being offered online spatially through Rooom. Last year, AWE came to us online, but it lacked some of the pizzaz that audiences of an XR conference have come to expect.
Inbar decided to host the hybrid conference to allow more people the opportunity to attend, particularly as we navigate the ever-changing COVID-19 situation. However, coronavirus aside, making it to a specific city for a conference can be expensive and inconvenient – attendance and interest in the conference both went up last year when attending was easier and less expensive, if less “real.”
The atmosphere alone of in-person events has kept many coming back over the years, from attendees to regular event speakers like Charlie Fink.
“The Educational Aspect Is One of the Best Parts”
“I did not speak the first year that I attended, I was just a sponge – learning, learning, learning,” said Fink. Fink is currently an educator in XR, a Forbes contributor and published author on the topic, and host of the “This Week in XR” Podcast with Ted Schilowitz. But, before he was this giant of the XR industry, he was an attendee just like anyone.
“I thought if I listened to people for two days, I would learn more than I would talking to people for a half-hour here and there like a journalist does,” said Fink. These experiences weren’t just technically educational for Fink. They have also influenced the ways in which he approaches the subject even to this day.
“When I prepare a session or a class, I think of myself sitting in the back of the room at AWE,” said Fink. “This isn’t just any topic, we’re talking about the future of man.”
At this year’s event, Fink will be presenting “Remote Collaboration Platforms: What’s Next?” on day one of the conference, which is today. Still, the “sponge” Fink said that he is particularly interested in Ori’s keynote, the follow-up from John Hanke of Niantic, and talks by Niantic, Qualcomm and Snap, as well as Cathy Hackl and John Buzzell, Joanna Popper, Tom Emrich, Mike Pell, and others.
“You have some of these panels, these people talk for five minutes and you know all of them could talk for an hour,” said Fink. “I think the educational aspect is one of the best parts of the conference – and it’s not competitive.”
“Business Gets Done at AWE”
Niantic’s Greg Chiemingo also values the collaborative nature of the conference. Niantic started attending the event after purchasing 6D.ai because 6D.ai had such a strong relationship with the conference.
“Some of those conversations that 6D.ai started years ago are now playing into Niantic partnerships today,” said Chiemingo. “Business gets done at AWE in a way that doesn’t happen at other conferences.”
The relationship that Chiemingo has with AWE is slightly different than Fink’s because Chiemingo is speaking on behalf of a company. And Niantic has a lot to say. The company’s highly anticipated Lightship SDK is scheduled to come out of its closed beta and the company is still reveling in the recent launch of its contribution to the world of Pickmin.
“[Lightship] is the reason I joined this company, knowing that they were going to make this platform,” said Chiemingo. “Opening the platform so that other people can build on it is very important.”
A Very Special Year for XR
Chiemingo, like Inbar, and like us attendees, is excited for AWE this year. But, not just because it’s in person. Chiemingo also expressed that this is the first year that a lot of the announcements and sessions at AWE actually impact the standard tech user – not just the specialist:
“To people who have been attending AWE for years, I hope they see this year’s event as different – not because it’s the first event after the pandemic, but because it’s the first time looking at the future when so many people actually have access to this technology… When people look back at AWE 2021, people will say ‘that was the start of something.’”