It's Time For The World Of Fan Immersion

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It's Time For The World Of Fan Immersion
July 24, 2020
Music concert experience
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Have you ever imagined rocking out on stage with Imagine Dragons? Playing center field for the New York Yankees? Or just being center stage for a major event? Most of us have, even if it is just a daydream. Each one of us wants to bask in our moment of glory. However, the advent of social media is turning each one of us into the “star” of our own movie. People are no longer content in being passive spectators at anymore. That is why events face the challenge of declining attendance and increasing costs to engage more people. Yes, there is hope in solving these problems by making people’s dreams closer to reality. While we may not be the superstar, emerging technology is giving us the next best thing: an interactive, immersive experience where we are part of the event.

 

Probably the first item to pop into our minds is virtual reality, which provides a simulated experience. However, for an incredible immersive fan experience, there is more promise in augmented reality (AR) and extended reality (xR) combined with artificial intelligence (AI.) Recall the Ironman movies from the Marvel Cinematic Universe where Tony Stark worked with J.A.R.V.I.S., his AI assistant, and could manipulate digital engineering designs without a device or screen. This is a classic example of using xR and AI to create a dynamic immersive experience. While this is a movie, the real world is not so far off from this model. Consider ConcertVR, a company providing live or past concerts through a VR experience. Imagine not having to go through the hassle of getting tickets, waiting in line to get in, or having to pay an outrageous amount of money for food, beverages, or merchandise. On top of that, people could suddenly attend concerts they never could have before because of location, cost, or time (like a concert from the 1980s.) By providing multiple camera angles, companies like ConcertVR are giving fans different perspectives like being in the crowd, sitting in the front row, or even being on stage. No longer are we dreaming about hanging out with the band on stage, we can now actually do it through this technology.

Derek Jeter batting at Yankee Stadium.
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Another key component to building a more immersive audience experience is gamification. Most people enjoy the thrill of competition, especially where it can be especially challenging. In sports, the most common gamification is which team is going to win. However, what if we take it to a whole other level where virtually anything in the game (like which player will score the next three-pointer in a basketball game) could set up as a contest? This is where a company like ThriveFantasy steps in. ThriveFantasy does legal, sports and esports, proposition bets through a mobile app. Meaning, users can bet on a variety of possibilities like how many times they think a player will strikeout today or an over-under bet on how many minutes a basketball player might play. Beyond the bets, ThriveFantasy is also helping professional sports teams organize contests. Imagine sitting in the stadium or at home and being able to play along. Predicting which player to substitute in next or if the next pitch will be a fastball or curveball. In effect, ThriveFantasy is creating a hyper-engagement with a team and their fans by essentially creating a “moment” every minute. In platforms like this, fans have a multitude of opportunities to score points on correct predictions that could occur virtually every second. Given the variability and dynamics of a game, ponder the how much big data, analytics, and AI is needed to make this a reality. This is what ThriveFantasy has crafted through their gamification and is pioneering, a new wave of immersive interaction with fans. Consider how this model can be extended out to events beyond sports. At a concert, which song will the band play next? How many times will the keynote speaker say, “generative design?” This is the power of gamification will have on creating deep, engaging experiences for people.

Meow Wolf mastodon skeleton.
 NEIL SAHOTA

 

Finally, when thinking about the pioneers of interaction and immersion, Meow Wolf has definitely been a trailblazer. They have redefined how we experience an art exhibit. Based in Santa Fe and supported by some incredible people like their Chief World Builder George R.R. Martin (from Game of Thrones fame), Meow Wolf has disrupted the traditional art exhibit. For example, the House of Eternal Return exhibit is based on the mystery story a family that went missing. Everything in the house features a dynamic, interactive connection to this story. People spend hours reading through the newspapers, looking for clues, searching for secret rooms, and so forth. Moreover, the exhibit is meant to be experimented with such as the mastodon skeleton that can be struck to create musical notes.

Meow Wolf mastodon sign
 NEIL SAHOTA

 

They have forged a whole new level of immersive engagement for their visitors. In essence, we are no longer people attending an art exhibit, rather, Meow Wolf has created an experience that makes us part of the exhibit.

 

Ultimately, a deeper, more immersive fan (or audience) experience requires creating these moments of glory for us. Whether it is being virtually on stage, correctly guessing the next hit would be a triple, or becoming the focal point of an art performance, it gives people a moment of experience. It gives people the opportunity be part of the concert, be part of the game, or be part of something. Thanks to technology like AI and xR, we are unlocking the resources to tap into a more interconnected, interactive, and immersive experiences for the fan, the event, and the community as a whole. In the very near future, an audience will not just be passive spectators anymore but rather an integral and interactive part of the event.

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