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Augmented World Expo Europe 2016: A Review

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The inaugural Augmented World Expo (AWE) Europe is now history. The big conference and exhibition that for seven years has served as a showcase for all the emerging realities in the AR community in the US is now an international affair, having held its second Asian edition in China last month, followed by AWE Europe October 18 – 19.

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The event took place at the Berlin Congress Centre, in the heart of the city in Alexanderplatz. The beautiful venue was a fantastic match for the exhibition with its two floors and the large convention hall that hosted two full days of speakers. The main stage saw a number of inspiring talks by names that have made history in both AR and VR like Bruce Sterling. The speakers’ agenda also included an impressive developers track; many providers took advantage of the event to create tutorials and demonstrations of their authoring technologies. One couldn’t help noticing the growing impact that Unity3D is having as authoring tool for AR experiences. In fact, many of the major software vendors showcased their Unity3D plugins to the developers attending.

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The exhibition hall featured more than 45 companies showcasing software solutions, optics, devices and applications. Interestingly, a large percentage of the exhibiting companies were those that focus their business models around enterprise solutions and industry-related technologies. This strengthens the belief that enterprise AR is a major driver for the success of the technology. A side hall hosted a number of startup companies promoting their innovative ideas (one of which, PuttView, won the “Best in Show” award for its golf practice solution).

Several European AREA members were represented:

  • Bosch showcased a number of solutions for AR-enabled automotive maintenance and servicing at one the largest booths in the show.
  • Catchoom brought in their image recognition and AR platforms demonstrating use cases for both enterprise and marketing use cases .
  • Joinpad centered their demos around industrial use cases, focusing especially on smart glasses solutions for MRO scenarios of complex equipment, developed using their Arrakis SDK for AR applications authoring.

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The audience attending the exhibition was a mix of tech enthusiasts and industrial customers interested in the benefits of AR and VR for their businesses. Although mostly European, many ticket holders travelled from Canada and the US to participate.

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All in all, AWE Europe felt like a promising first edition for the AR-focused conference that has set trends for AR development in the States. Even compared to the US edition in June, many demos had evolved to a more mature stage, especially with the proliferation of innovative devices like the Hololens, showing the rapidly development of the market. While AWE Europe is somewhat smaller than its American counterpart, we at the AREA are convinced that it is here to stay and will become a “must go” event for those interested in the potential of this technology.

The AWE organizing committee will share many of the talks on the main stage and the developers track on the AWE YouTube Channel.