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As marketing professionals in the experiential world, we have become accustomed to the idea of an ever evolving industry. Brands today are moving away from purely face to face physical experiences, and bringing their essence to life, not only through digital immersion creativity but through new technology as well including Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). Now, you may ask yourself, “what is the difference between VR and AR, and how are brands utilizing these technologies?” Well, I’m here to tell you… Virtual Reality is a computer technology that replicates an environment (real or imagined) and simulates a user's physical presence in a way that allows the user to interact with that environment. Virtual reality can create an artificial sensory experience, which can include sight, touch, hearing, and smell. VR is usually simulated through a headset or goggles. Augmented Reality is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are “augmented” by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. To translate: VR can transport a user into an imaginary reality for gaming, entertainment, and play to give them a brand new experience outside of their live reality. AR simulates the physical world around the user but implements computer generated objects in order to transcend your experience. Big brands are using these technologies to transform their experiential activations and increase interaction time between the consumer and the brand. For example, have you ever wanted to transport to another location? Travel companies such as Marriott are using VR to transport their consumer to exotic destinations in order for them to experience the location without ever having been there, however enticing for visits in the future with stays at Marriott hotels. This tactic not only helped Marriott to drive sales but also drove brand loyalty and engagement. Other brands, like Sephora, are using AR in-store to directly drive sales. Sephora enables the consumer to apply their makeup virtually through a touch screen, so they can visualize what the makeup will look like on before purchasing. This allows consumers to verify their confidence in the products prior to purchase, leading to higher satisfaction, engagement and loyalty rates, all thanks to AR, a win-win for both the brand and the consumer. Now that we know the difference between VR and AR, what can we expect in the future? You will see an increase in brands using these technologies in-store, on-site and on mobile devices given the creative freedom you can have with each. There is so much room to customize and tailor experiences directly to not only broader target audience groups, but individuals as well, offering a lot of benefits to brands trying to connect with their consumer in a fun and unique way. As experiential continues to evolve, it’s important to stay relevant in the space and understand the implications technology can have in these experiences, specifically how they can transform current reality. To read more about innovations, technologies, and where experiential is heading in 2016, visit our slide share ‘Experiential Insight’ here.