The 10th edition of the Augmented World Expo (AWE), co-founded by Super Ventures partner Ori Inbar, and executive produced with Tom Emrich and BrainXchange, opens its three day conference and expo on Wednesday, May 29th, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Silicon Valley. Right next door to where the 49ers football team plays. Oh, and Great America amusement park is next door to that. It’s not the bucolic setting that makes AWE so important. It’s the list of 300 speakers across 6 stages and a massive, curated agenda, which can be found here. There’s more than 100,000 sf of expo space for 250 exhibitors and an entertainment expo, “The Playground.” New this year is the XR museum, a showcase of much more than the technology that was new in 2009 when the expo started, but dating back decades before academics called it “augmented reality.”
AWE is the XR conference for everyone. Whether you are a sophisticated developer of spatial content, or a neophyte seeking education, AWE delivers a rare combination that makes it possible to take in key trends and rapid advances in technology, not just for displays and other hardware, but everything needed by the ecosystem, like AR content creation platforms for enterprises and entertainment, computer vision, 3D graphics, motion capture, artificial intelligence, and spatial sound. Sensors that allow for precise geolocation of content using SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping) have enabled the creation of a shared “world mesh,” the digital twin of the physical world, which makes the world clickable. Snap is now using this technology to make Landmarkers, where camera filters can make landmarks like The Eiffel Tower and New York’s iconic Flatiron Building, dance, or interact with dragons. Google’s Lens uses computer vision for visual search. Eventually, we will see the world through our cameras, where the physical world will seamlessly combine with the digital.
We had a chance to catch up with Inbar while composing this curtain-raiser. “The diversity of topics we cover, from consumer to enterprise and VR to AR is manifested in the number of people — and companies — that gather here every year to trade notes. Consumer and enterprise, in all verticals.”
Inbar called 2019 “The Year of the Creator,” as a good number of authoring tools aimed at equipping the next generation of creators with easy-to-use object oriented tools for building XR experiences without code are coming of age. “The race to build an index of the real world is on, with companies working to align digital content with the physical environment on a global scale in order to enable next-level augmented reality,” said Inbar.
Advances in 5G and Artificial Intelligence are highlighted, along with topics like an open AR Cloud. Featured speakers an a huge range of related topics are from companies like Microsoft (Mike Pell), PTC (Jim Hepplemann), Qualcomm (Hugo Swart), Unity (Tony Parisi, Timoni West), Magic Leap (Cathy Hackl), Facebook (Meaghan Fitzgerald, Yelena Rachitsky, Goro Fujita) and thought leaders from Google, Niantic, Adobe, Lenovo, Bose, NASA, nReal, Rokid, IBM, T-Mobile, ATT, Verizon, IBM, HP, ILMx, Deloitte, and Oracle. Industrial leaders like Siemens, Audi, KLM, Nestle, also define the agenda, presenting compelling uses of XR in the enterprise, which is scaling much more rapidly than consumer XR right now. The sum of all these pieces makes AWE bigger than any single company’s developer conference in terms of breadth, depth, and diversity of related topics. Unlike the major developer conferences from Apple (WWDC follows AWE), Google, Facebook, Amazon, Snap, Magic Leap, the organizers of AWE don’t have a dog in the fight.
Last year, the AWE badge itself acted as a marker to anchor a hilarious animated series from Living Popups, “The Augmentors.” This year t he AWE App has other cool AR features like scanning attendee LOOKs bags to connect with each other and with exhibitors. Cross platform AR creation platform creator 8th Wall is offering attendees a special, free AWE Portal Hunt, which can be downloaded from the app stores. It consists of 10 distinct “portal” experiences, each activated by a Web AR image target, which are on display stands positioned around AWE. You’re an astronaut explorer, retrieving alien relics from each mysterious portal. Real-time progress of players will be displayed on a leaderboard at the event.
“I know we say we’re at a pivotal moment every year, but the acceleration of XR technology has blown past the tipping point,” said Inbar. “Back in 2010, AR took a big leap of faith.” On Wednesday, May 29th, at 9am, a thousand people will hear him open the show. It may be hard to top Inbar’s AR pyrotechnics in previous years.
AWE USA 2019 is open to the public and takes place in Santa Clara, California from May 29–31, 2019. Use promo code FORBES15 at www.awexr.com for 15% off tickets.