12.–16.01.2025 #immcologne

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Mixed reality at the trade fair stand

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An exhibition area, a few advisers, a selection of products and some information material – this is what many conventional trade fair stands look like. But what if you could add an element of infinity to your stand? Infinite space, infinite product presentations, infinite possibilities. We’re talking about mixed reality. But what exactly is mixed reality, and what benefits does it offer for your trade fair stand?

A trade fair stand at imm cologne

A classic trade fair stand: a table to gather around, a few products and a TV for promotional films. But how about adding some mixed reality? (Photo: imm cologne)

What is mixed reality?

No matter which sector a trade fair is for, what brings it to life is its diversity and broad range of different exhibitors. But what should you do if you can’t showcase everything at the event? If the exhibitors were to present their entire product portfolio in depth, probably all of them would need an ever-increasing stand area. At the same time, they need to stand out from their direct competitors at the trade fair stands on the left and the right and turn their showcase into an experience. This is a challenge that calls for plenty of creativity and progressive thinking – and one that the inventive exhibitors at successful trade shows are capable of mastering. Growing numbers of companies are embracing the possibilities of mixed reality. Mixed reality is primarily about connecting the physical and digital worlds. It can take different forms: Mixed reality might present elements from the real world in a digital reality and allow us to experience them without any spatial limitations – or digital objects might be incorporated into the real world with the aid of modern technologies.

Even if this might still sound a bit abstract, mixed reality opens up an incredible number of possibilities. It enables manufacturers to present their entire portfolio to interested trade fair visitors despite the limited physical space. Alternatively, they can accompany their customers on a virtual tour of the company factory without leaving the trade fair stand. A small four-square-metre stand becomes a digital portal to a boundless virtual brand universe.

A phone displays AR features

How AR works: With the right app, a smartphone can display objects that are not present at all in the physical world so that they appear right beside you. (Photo: UNIBOA, Unsplash)

Virtual reality vs augmented reality

Mixed reality is an umbrella term. It encompasses everything that takes us beyond our mere physical reality and expands our perception with another digital reality. The most interesting and most important developments at the moment are Virtual reality – otherwise known as VR – and Augmented reality , or AR for short.

Both forms of mixed reality have their own specific benefits for trade fair exhibitors. But what exactly are the differences between augmented reality and virtual reality?

Virtual reality
In virtual reality, users leave the world around them behind and immerse themselves in a simulated reality. Equipped with virtual reality glasses or a VR headset at the company’s stand, trade fair visitors can enter a digital showroom or wander through the hallowed production halls. They can interact with the products presented to them virtually with incredible ease and examine them as if they were right before them.

Augmented reality
Augmented reality is a digital extension of physical reality. Via the camera lens on a smartphone or tablet, digital objects that are invisible in physical reality appear on the display – a feat made possible thanks to a diverse array of apps. You don’t have enough space to display any more products on your exhibition shelves? With AR, you can create unlimited space. Or perhaps you have a lengthy how-to video for one of your products? Use AR technology to play it in one of your brochures. Augmented reality is also a useful tool for exploded views and other forms of detailed information.

The benefits of mixed reality presentations at a glance

Greater interest
For many people, augmented reality and virtual reality are still something extraordinary, something new and exciting. Trade fair visitors are often curious and respond with greater interest when they see the eye-catching VR glasses and headsets. Trade fair exhibitors should use this attention to cement their brand messaging in interested visitors’ minds by creating good VR material and unforgettable experiences.

Expanding the space
This point should be plain to see: On an interactive VR tour of your production facility, prospects can examine everything under the microscope and interact with products, prompting conversations and hence generating new contacts. What’s more, many trade fair visitors are sure to remember the experience for a long time.

Next-generation product presentations
In the past, trade fair exhibitors could demonstrate only a few products and had to otherwise make do with TV screens. Thanks to mixed reality, they can now bring all their products to life before trade fair visitors’ eyes with an astonishing depth of detail. By incorporating features such as exploded views into their product demonstrations, exhibitors can even present details that would remain hidden during offline presentations.

A VR simulation

Diving into a digital world with a virtual reality headset: The technology opens up completely new possibilities for trade fair exhibitors as well. (Photo: XR Expo, Unsplash)

Welcome to mixed reality

The age of one-dimensional trade fair stands will come to an end sooner or later. VR and AR will by no means be the only interfaces between the physical and digital worlds. At this moment in time, we can’t say yet what else will appear on the horizon – but we’ll be sure to keep you posted! One thing is already clear now: Mixed reality offers diverse benefits and opportunities – far more than we can discuss in this article. Get creative, start experimenting with virtual reality and augmented reality, and plan your next trade fair stand at imm cologne now .

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