Augmented World Expo, AWE for short, returns to Santa Clara this year from May 31 to June 2, 2023. The agenda is still coming together but there’s already a lot to be excited about. Let’s take a look.
Many XR companies save some of their biggest announcements for the AWE stage. Even when companies aren’t dropping new products, apps, and services, they use the time to inform and inspire listeners about this rapidly developing space.
The first day of AWE always starts with an opening keynote from event founder Ori Inbar. Inbar’s addresses are always insightful and digestible with good measures of his palpable enthusiasm and humor. During his opening keynote last year, Inbar spoke about how XR can help make both big dreams and small dreams become reality.
Next up is the Qualcomm keynote from Vice President and General Manager of XR Hugo Swart. At his keynote last year, Swart presented Snapdragon Spaces and introduced the first two recipients of Qualcomm Ventures’ metaverse-funded companies.
Then, Nreal CEO Chi Xu takes the stage. Nreal hasn’t been a keynote presenter in the years that ARPost has covered AWE. But, the company is definitely going places. This year saw the commercial launch of Nreal Air (review) and we know that they have at least one more model waiting in the wings for the next big launch.
Day two only has one proper keynote scheduled, this time with Magic Leap. Last year, the company’s Head of Product Management, Jade Meskill, took the stage to talk about the Magic Leap 2 and “augmented enterprise.” We don’t yet know what will come of this year’s keynote but it’s being given by the company’s CEO Peggy Johnson.
Following that is a “Fireside Chat” with Unity CEO John Riccitiello. That it’s a “fireside chat” and not a “keynote” arguably suggests that there won’t be any big product announcements but that doesn’t mean that this session shouldn’t be on your schedule.
Days two and three are lighter on heavy-hitting speakers to encourage attendees to check out the expo floor, which we’ll look at next. Don’t worry though, there are sessions to look forward to beyond just keynotes and we’ll look at some of those later.
The Expo Floor
It’s impossible to know exactly what will be going on on the expo floor, which is part of what makes it so exciting. A list of exhibitors (over 130 of them) and a map of the expo floor are posted on the AWE website, but what companies will be showcasing and how is a mystery until the floor opens on day two.
First off, a number of haptics pioneers will be there including Haptx, bHaptics, and SenseGlove. Any immersive technology is better when you experience it yourself instead of just seeing it on YouTube, but this is doubly true for haptics. But, unfortunately, many of these products are still hard for the average person to get their hands on. That makes the expo floor a great intro.
Mojo Vision will also be on the AWE expo floor. While this company isn’t likely to be putting their AR contact lenses onto the eyeballs of just anybody, they do have rigs that allow you to get a glimpse through what they’re building.
DigiLens, Vuzix, and Lenovo will also be on the AWE Expo floor. These companies make components and enterprise hardware that’s usually a cut above available consumer models. Trying them out can be a glimpse into the future. I got to get my hands on some of their hardware at last year’s expo and left feeling enlightened.
Also, Tilt Five will be returning. Last year, their augmented game board was the life of the expo floor drawing huge crowds – not just to interact with the product but to watch other people interact with the product.
Of course, that’s only a sliver of the total exhibitors. Personally, I’m hoping to reconnect with some of my friends from Avatour, Echo3D, FundamentalVR, Inworld AI, Leia Inc., Mytaverse, OVR Technology, VRdirect, and Zappar.
Expert Talks and Panel Discussions
On day one, right after the keynotes, many will likely stay in their seats to see Forbes columnist, author, and educator Charlie Fink talk with Magic Leap founder and former CEO Rony Abovitz about “How We Can Invigorate XR.” A few hours later on the same stage, Qualcomm Director of Product Management Steve Lukas will talk about “Building AR for Today.”
A little after that, one might head out of the Mission City Ballroom to Grand Ballroom C’s “Web3” track where EndeavorXR founder and CEO Amy Peck will be debating “Pros &Cons of Web3” with XR Guild President Avi Bar-Zeev. It’s hard to find an XR organization that Peck isn’t or hasn’t been involved with, and Bar-Zeev co-created Google Earth and HoloLens.
From there, one might head back to the Mission City Ballroom for “Intersection of AI and the Metaverse: What’s Next?” a panel discussion with leading XR ethicist Kent Bye, HTC VIVE China President Alvin Graylin, WXR Fund Managing Partner Amy LaMeyer, and Creative Artist Agency’s Chief Metaverse Officer Joanna Popper.
But wait! Happening at the same time is “How XR Technology Is Changing the Fashion Landscape” with Beyond Creative Technologist David Robustelli, Ready Player Me co-founder Kaspar Tiri, and DressX co-founder Daria Shapovalova.
Depending on which of those last two talks you see, you might have time for “What Problem Does the Metaverse Solve?” with Nokia Head of Ecosystem and Trend Scouting Leslie Shannon.
If you miss the first fashion session, you can always catch “Redefining Fashion and Beauty’s Next Decade – From Virtual Beings and Gaming to Generative AI” with LVMH VP of Digital Innovation Nelly Mensah, 5th Column founder and CEO Akbar Hamid, and Journey founder and Chief Metaverse Officer Cathy Hackl.
On the same day that the expo opens up, on the main stage, Paramount Pictures Futurist Ted Schilowitz presents “XR Excellence: Demonstration & Discussion” – billed as a collection of “what he thinks are the best experiences in VR and MR today, and what we can learn from those experiences” followed by Q&A.
But oh no! At the same time in Ballroom D, Khronos Group President Neil Treveett, XRSI founder and CEO Kavya Pearlman, and Moor Insights & Strategy Senior Analyst Anshel Sag are talking about building open standards for the metaverse!
Both of those events conflict with a “Meet the Makers” session featuring Julie Smithson and Karen Alexander of MetaVRse, Sophia Moshasha of the VR/AR Association, and Ben Erwin of The Polys Awards.
Later in the afternoon, Inworld AI’s Chief Creative Officer John Gaeta and Chief Product Officer Kylan Gibbs debut a new concept demo called “Origins” – a new kind of caper in which a human detective must navigate a world of generative AI bots.
The evening of AWE Day Two is also The Auggie Awards. We can’t tell you too much about the Auggie Awards because the finalists aren’t out. In fact, you still have until April 7 to submit nominees. Then, there’s a period of public voting until May 4. You can submit nominees and vote for your favorites here.
On day three, in the “AI and Virtual Beings” track, producer, director, and strategist Rebecca Evans, Stanford University Graduate Research Fellow Eugy Han, Odeon Theatrical CEO Stephanie Riggs, and Dulce Dotcom advisor Dulce Baerga will discuss “Avatars, Environments & Self Expression – from Social VR to Cross-Reality Experiences.”
From there, you might head back to the Mission City Ballroom for a Fireside Chat with Tom Furness, the founder and chairman of the Virtual World Society – one of the oldest and noblest organizations in immersive tech.
AWE concludes on the afternoon of day three with Inbar’s closing statements and the Best In Show Awards on the main stage.
How to Attend AWE
Once again, all AWE recordings will become available on AWE.live. If you want to experience AWE in person, you still have time to get tickets. If you’re reading this before February 28, you still have time for Super Early Bird Tickets. You can also get 20% off of your ticket price by using discount code 23ARPOSTD at checkout.
And keep an eye on ARPost as AWE draws nearer. As a media partner of the event, we’ll be giving two free tickets to selected readers as part of an upcoming drawing. Watch our social media channels for details.