After what was an absolutely incredible afterparty filled with a great XR industry crowd buzzing from two awesome days of AWE and Auggie Award winners rightfully celebrating their new Auggies trophies, we were back at it for the third and final day of the world’s largest XR community gathering here at AWE USA 2023. While many stories certainly came about from last night’s tailgate-style shindig, there were still many events to unfold on the last day of the event, with committed attendees raring to go first thing in the morning on the Friday.
With a host of talks and presentations taking place throughout the course of Day 3, there was still plenty to discover from the day’s agenda. And with XR now expanding its influence across an increasingly broad spectrum of industries, this was of course reflected in today’s event programming. From aerospace to automotive, or gaming to healthcare and wellness, guests had an insightful day of learning from some of the XR industry’s leading minds.
All of the talks from this week’s AWE USA 2023 event will be available to view on the AWE.LIVE platform in the very near future. In fact, Main Stage sessions are already available. These speaker sessions, panel discussions, fireside chats, presentations, and more will also be covered in the coming weeks and months as part of our ‘AWE Talks’ blog series. So for this blog post, we wanted to show some love to this year’s exhibition floor, and highlight some of the absolute stand-out booths, exhibitors, and experiences that were on display for attendees.
The AWE expo floor is of course the best place to discover the leading and bleeding-edge technologies that are shaping the AR and VR landscape today. And this year’s exhibition hall certainly did not disappoint.
The beauty of exhibiting at AWE is that it allows companies of all sizes, from large enterprise organizations to small scale start-ups, to share the same 100,000 sq ft space, filled with XR industry professionals and enthusiasts. The possibilities for making new connections with industry partners are endless, and exhibitors are constantly raving about how valuable their AWE experience is in terms of connecting with like minded individuals and companies, learning from XR hardware and software providers, and growing their businesses within what is already one of the fastest growing industries in tech (aside from AI).
From our AWE sponsors this year, there were some amazing booths, lounges, spaces, experiences, and more. From Qualcomm’s bold red booth that greeted exhibitors on their arrival into the expo floor, to Magic Leap’s sleek and minimalist space that matched their stylish headsets, or the mind-bending mirrors installed at the XREAL booth, guests entering the expo hall were greeted with a visual feast, as they set foot into what was our most impressive exhibition to date.
Elsewhere, companies like Snap had set up the Snap AR Lounge, which was situated right outside the Main Stage, where they showcased everything Snap, from filters to their AR Spectacles (almost a mini expo floor in itself, entirely devoted to Snap). Then, across the venue, Niantic had their own lounge too, which again, was entirely dedicated to their AR offerings and platforms. Niantic was even running their own tracks and talks throughout the day, with guest speakers stepping up onto the stage in the Niantic Lounge to discuss how AR developer tools such as 8th Wall and Lightship were being used. There was truly something new around every corner, and that is one huge part of what makes AWE so inspiring and exciting – being able to discover the latest and best solutions that the XR market has on offer, and connect directly with the companies and individuals who are building those solutions.
On the expo floor itself, the hustle and bustle never seemed to stop. Companies such as Sightful had guests patiently lining up throughout the entirety of the event in order to try out the world’s first augmented reality laptop – the Spacetop. The Spacetop is a laptop that doesn’t have a screen, and instead, users put on a pair of AR glasses tethered to the device to see their digital content in an immersive view. Sightful ended up winning the Auggie Award for ‘Best in Show’ later in the day too (more on that below).
Opposite Sightful was Ant Reality, who were showcasing their impressively crisp AR optics, which also featured a “VR mode,” that allowed attendees to simply press a button and switch between an AR view to a blacked out mode where the background environment (i.e. the real world) was blocked out, and only digital content was visible on the display. They too had a nice line up of excited attendees throughout both days.
Eyejack, an art and technology company that creates one-of-a-kind augmented experiences that help bring brands and artists alike into the metaverse, was also popular. Their booth this year featured a gallery of 3D art cubes made by a dozen XR creators—with each face of the cube providing a new view of the artwork. Artworks could be experienced, cross-platforms, on mobile, in AR, and in VR headsets.
Sony Electronics brought a number of XR products that blend the virtual and physical worlds, including their brilliant stereoscopic 3D Spatial Reality display and a new approach for viewing physical items in the metaverse. Their Mocopi experience had XR fans dancing in the booth. Using 6 motion tracking sensors strapped to their extremities, guests could animate an on screen avatar with their body movements.
As always, part of the expo floor is of course the AWE Playground, a 20,000 square foot AR and VR experience center that featured some jaw-dropping, highly immersive and interactive demos not seen under one roof anywhere else. On the Playground this year, attendees' curiosity was piqued by the fascinating VR contraption (made out of wood) that was the Exit Suit. Winner of the ‘Awesome Award,’ Exit Suit featured an other-worldly “full-body force feedback and navigation suit for VR”—a novel apparatus to move about virtual worlds and experience VR stimuli. The Exit Suit takes a community approach to solving several of today’s experience challenges and can be fabricated nearly anywhere from sustainable materials. Awesome indeed.
There were some fun musical XR experiences to enjoy on the Playground this year too, with PatchXR doing a live mixing set throughout both days. Guests could stop by and watch the company’s head of content, Gad Baruch Hinkis, showing his live music making skills, mixing tunes in mixed reality (he also made an appearance at the after party, performing a live set in mixed reality – a first for AWE’s afterparties). There was also a mixed reality Guitar Hero-style experience from Guitar XR, who were showcasing their XR musical instrument learning platform that can help people learn to play real guitar or drums, simply by visualizing which exact notes to hit in a video game-style mixed reality experience.
This year’s expo and surrounding spaces had so much on offer for guests to enjoy. Whether it was laptops with no tangible screens, AR tabletop boardgames, VR smell-o-vision devices, robot dogs, AR glasses for paragliding, life-sized holograms, or almost every single XR headset and device imaginable (maybe save for one), there was truly innovation and inspiration around every corner at this year’s event.
Sadly though, there is not enough space to cover every single amazing thing that was on display at AWE 2023 in this post. Even more sadly, all good things must come to an end, and with all the excitement and fun from the expo floor wrapping up at 3:00pm on the Friday, attendees made their way to the Main Stage one final time to watch the event wrap-up closing ceremony, as well as find out the winners of the ‘Best in Show’ Auggie Awards.
The winners of the Best in Show awards were:
And on that note, that’s a wrap on the AWE USA 2023 recaps. A warm and heartfelt “thank you” goes out to our gracious hosts at the Santa Clara Convention Center, which has been the home of AWE USA for the last 14 years. But as the XR industry grows, so too does its community, and with a growing community comes a growing need to expand the space in which we all gather. And with that, it was announced at the end of this year’s event that for AWE 2024, we will be moving to Long Beach, California!
We are incredibly excited to invite the XR community to gather next year at what will be a truly special event, marking the 15th anniversary of AWE. But before then, our sights are set on our next gathering for 2023 with AWE EU, which will take place in Vienna, Austria from October 24-25.
Finally, a huge thank you also goes out to the entire AWE community. You are the reason these events are as special as they are, and it is truly magical to see such a vibrant, talented, diverse and enthusiastic group of individuals come together to share their passion for XR technology. We look forward to spreading the good word of XR with you together - you are awesome!