9 Nov 2021 | AWE Team

We finally made it! The XR industry is here in California for its first in-person event in over two years! It is a moment that everyone has been looking forward to: a real reunion of the XR community!
Although hugging is not encouraged and keeping a safe distance is still the norm, you could feel the joy of getting back together in the same space, for the same goal: the acceleration of the XR industry.

Ori Inbar, AWE CEO and Co-founder kicked off the event by taking a look at the early days of our industry by doing an impersonation of Max Headroom, the first virtual host on TV. Headroom is a British fictional artificial intelligence (AI) character, introduced in the 80’s.


The parents of the AR and VR industry were also mentioned along with some very emotional moments from previous editions of AWE.

“It’s been 893 days since we last met and now we are back! If we learned one thing during nearly two years of Covid is that people can do nearly anything in XR: shop, work out, travel and even party remotely. Here is one thing we can’t do: meet the heroes! Connect with people on a deeper level.” Ori said. 

“The XR industry not only survived the pandemic, it thrived! We want every business in the world to know that if you want to grow your business the answer is here: thrive to the power of XR!” continued the AWE CEO and cofounder in his opening keynote.

Of course the M word could not have been avoided: the Metaverse is the buzzword of the moment after all, and Ori helped to demystify it by presenting it in a fun,  TV game show format:

The Main Stage was packed with people who came to the first in-person AWE after two years and waited, with eager anticipation, for the next presentation from Niantic’s CEO and Founder, John Hanke.

John Hanke’s keynote focused on how we can build a Real World Metaverse for Everyone followed by the big announcement the company made just yesterday about

Opening the Lightship Platform Globally, empowering developers to build their visions for the real-world Metaverse.

What exactly does that mean?

Check out the recording of his talk from the AWE YouTube channel


Simultaneously, the track sessions kicked off: Thomas Kauer from Tesla opened the floor at the Enterprise track while Jay Wright, Campfire CEO explained what drives productivity for distributed teams in the Remote Collaboration, Training & Education track.

Outside the main stage, in the first part of Day 1, was highlighted bythe story of Wallace & Gromit. Also, Ryan Measel, CEO and Co-Founder of a location-based AR platform, Fantasmo spoke about how his team created a digital twin of the city for authoring the content, enabling occlusion, localizing devices, and overcoming the challenges of embedding AR features into cities in a new and pioneering way.

Niantic had a second appearance during the first day, this time in the Developer track featuring Amanda Whitt, Product Manager for Lightship ARDK, and Pablo Colapinto, Head of Immersive at Nexus Studios. They shared their experience into how the Nexus team used Niantic’s Lightship ARDK to create a sample app developers can use to quickly learn the features and explore what's possible with the ARDK.
The Retail, Ecommerce & Advertising track was a great place to learn about opportunities like How XR Technology Realizes ROI In Automotive Retail or the Evolution Of Digital Fashion and the importance of storytelling in immersive experiences.

Unarguably another big topic this year is remote collaboration so in the Remote Collaboration, Training & Education Track, the subject was discussed from all angles: how it can be used in different industries: from real estate to education and defense space and of course Charlie Fink, Forbes contributor opened the floor for the question regarding the sustainability of the many remote working platforms that have emerged over the past few years.

Another big story of this year, NFTs, was the topic for the XR Enablement track in the second part of the 1st day. Christopher Lafayette, Emergent Technologist at HoloPractice spoke about how Non Fungible Tokens are defined, how they are made and of course what this means for the Virtual Worlds.

The elephant in the room was also addressed towards the end of the first day: the workforce shortage. Nathan Pettyjohn, Commercial AR/VR Lead at Lenovo spoke about how Lenovo’s ThinkReality AR/VR solutions are pushing the limits on flexibility and scalability in an effort to overcome the unprecedented shortages in the skilled workforce ecosystem.

Day 1 was packed with fantastic talks and AWEs most diverse agenda ever! AWE is thrilled to welcome 186 women to the stage at #AWE2021, and also excited to tackle so many critical topics: from education to air force, entertainment to healthcare and many more.


The day ended with the AWE Welcome Reception, of course! With two actually: an in-person one in the Santa Clara Ballroom and another one in VR, hosted by Chicken Waffle.
It was a very special day and we are grateful to everyone who joined in-person and virtually for this fantastic experience. It really feels like a true reunion of the XR industry and it was wonderful to meet old friends, make new friends and just enjoy being together.

Thank you for an incredible start to #AWE2021 and we look forward to what tomorrow will bring!

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