10 VR Expos & Trade Shows You Have to Attend

VR can seem like a big, intimidating space for the average consumer. All the different kinds of devices, wearable tech and plethora of apps can easily become too overwhelming to tackle all at once. So we thought, what better way to tackle a smorgasbord of info than a list of the best and brightest live events where you can learn about and experience more VR? Here’s a list of ten VR expos and trade shows that are worth the entrance fee:

  1. SVVR Silicon Valley VR Expo

The annual Silicon Valley VR Expo features one of the largest expo floors in VR with over 100 VR companies who gather at the San Jose Convention Center. The conference has grown exponentially since 2014’s 34 exhibitors, which at the time equated to almost everyone in the industry.

BOBOVR Z4 at last year’s SVVR 2016. Image courtesy of Super Reality.

BOBOVR Z4 at last year’s SVVR 2016. Image courtesy of Super Reality.

2016’s exhibition featured many notable highlights including Infinadeck, an omnidirectional treadmill used to allow virtual reality users walk within virtual reality worlds. Or Project Alice’s simulated room experience where users can interact with each other in a room where objects like foam blocks can be passed back and forth. You can take a look at CNET’s video tour of the floor here.

  1. VRLA Summer Expo

VRLA’s Summer Expo is held at the LA Convention Center. From relatively small beginnings at Digital Domain, VRLA has grown to accommodate over 100 VR exhibitors in its massive West Hall B. In its early days the first 50 members received personal thank you notes for joining.

VRLA’s Summer Expo. Image courtesy of VRLA.

VRLA’s Summer Expo. Image courtesy of VRLA.

VRLA brings consumers and industry professionals together twice a year with its Winter and Summer expos. Expecting over 6000 attendees in total, 2016’s summer expo will include a keynote by comedian and performer Reggie Watts, and a VR rave presented by Skullcandy where you can experience DJs inside VR. You can take a look at some of VRLA’s expo videos here.

Oh, and if you’re a student you can get in for $30 for the expo’s second day.

  1. Virtual Reality Developers Conference

Virtual Reality Developers Conference was launched along with the Game Developers Conference in March 2016. However, VRDC’s event goes beyond gaming to encompass all kinds of VR experiences with uses in a range of different industries.

In the Brand Experience track, attendees can learn from commercial experts about how brands are applying VR. The Partners track gives companies sessions on how to communicate the value of their technologies and services. With additional conference tracks like Games & Entertainment and Innovation, VRDC gives attendees a more tailored expo experience.

  1. AWE

The Augmented World Expo in Santa Clara provides attendees with numerous speakers who give personal insights into the future of augmented, virtual reality and wearables.

AWE Expo. Image courtesy of AWE.

AWE Expo. Image courtesy of AWE.

The expo also features 200 exhibitors including Nvidia, Epson, Sony, Meta, and Microsoft.  With its headline, “Superpowers to the people,” AWE has been a lead exhibitor in the world of VR/AR since its debut seven years ago.

Last year’s highlights included Altspace VR’s virtual room experience that can bring you and your friend in the east coast into the same virtual space. You can take a look at USA Today’s deeper review into last year’s AWE expo.

  1. Vision Summit

Unity Technologies’ Vision Summit takes place in Hollywood, California and aims to be a cross industry event for develops, designers, programmers, artists and anyone interested in gaining more knowledge about VR/AR content.

Unity Technologies CEO, John Riccitiello’s, keynote address. Image courtesy of VR Scout.

Unity Technologies CEO, John Riccitiello’s, keynote address. Image courtesy of VR Scout.

Vision Summit’s past keynote speakers included Oculus founder Palmer Luckey, Vice President of VR at Google Clay Bavor and Valve’s Gabe Newell who infamously had his own Oprah moment in 2015 where he gave every attendee a free HTC Vive.

  1. Cultivating Women in VR

In an industry with limited female representation, Cultivating Women in VR aims to bring women together to provide opportunities to explore and collaborate around VR technology.

Held in San Francisco, the event intends to give attendees mentorship from leading VR executives who diverse viewpoint in addition to their expertise but also their diverse viewpoint of the industry. The event uniquely gives women the opportunity to, “find their places within the VR space,” allowing for more than just insight into the development of technology but the chance to create new paths alongside other female industry mentors.

And dudes, you’re welcome to attend too.

Cultivating Women in VR. Image Courtesy of Northbound Films.

Cultivating Women in VR. Image Courtesy of Northbound Films.

Watch attendees write on sticky notes what it would take for their moms to get on board with VR, here.

  1. VRTO

Home to the Emmy-Award winning Secret Location, Toronto is becoming a hub for VR content innovators. VRTO takes place in Toronto’s Mattamy Center and aims to separate itself from other VR expos by giving attendees insight into the potential effects of VR on our personal psyche as it transforms our lives.

In addition to the keynote speakers and demos, training workshops teach attendees how to create 360 videos from pre to post production. Another training workshop offers attendees the chance to learn about how to use WebVR, JanusVR, IPFS and 360 capture to create their own virtual worlds.

Cadillac Lounge at VRTO. Image courtesy of VRTO.

Cadillac Lounge at VRTO. Image courtesy of VRTO.

  1. VR 2020 Summit

This year’s first VR 2020 Summit is during NYC Television & Video Week. The one-day experience gives attendees insight into VR/AR technology with a number of different panels on topics like, “Reimagining Sports in VR” and “Venture Capitalists and Strategic Investors Share Their Funding Priorities.”

Though the website gives limited info on the sponsors of the event, it would be interesting to check out VR 2020 now and track its progress over the next few years. Event producer NewBay Media is a powerhouse in entertainment industry technology events, and with such a structured agenda (including 20-minute demo break intervals), we’re curious to see how attendees will respond to the experience.

  1. VRevolution

VRevolution, set up in Times Square, gives brand executives and agency representatives working in or considering working within virtual reality, the chance to network with over 500 professionals within the field.

With a smaller number of VR experience demos, VRevolution aims to give executives the platform to develop multi-faceted solutions to things like customer engagement by creating a space for conversations to happen. Oh and it’s also free.

  1. VR/AR | SXSW

In March of 2016, virtual reality had SXSW attendees buzzing. With a three-day virtual and augmented reality track, SXSW gives attendees the chance to try out various VR demos among the diverse number of other experiences at the interactive festival.

VRSE (now Within) booth at SXSW. Photo by Richard Mcblane/Getty Images for SXSW.

VRSE (now Within) booth at SXSW. Photo by Richard Mcblane/Getty Images for SXSW.

VR at SXSW is a great way to be introduced to the variety in VR experiences one can have. This year’s exhibit featured The Fulldome.pro, a small dome that allowed for users to engage in a complete sensory experience. Users lay down underneath the dome as images are projected above them. SXSW’s Fulldome.pro experience was a miniature version while actual domes take up enough space to be intended for concert use.

Fulldome pro

Behind attendees is one of five Fulldome.pro set ups. Image courtesy of Fulldome.pro.

SXSW’s VR track gives attendees and VR novices a look into the future of VR as more than just a goggle experience.

We hope you enjoyed our summary of the best VR events out there. If there are any more you recommend, we’d love to hear about it across social! Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn!