Yesterday and today (24. and 25.10. 2023) I attended the AWE XR Europe in Vienna. As usual when I travel, I chose to walk as much as possible and avoid public transportation. This time too, I took the train from the airport to Wiener Mitte and from there I made my way to the event venue, a distance of about 6km. Walking allows me to truly experience a city – its beat, vibe, smells, and soundscape. It’s the best way to get a feel for the local culture. Exploring on foot ensures at least a minimum of movement during conferences and fairs – and take in the sensory experience of a new place. Ironically, after deliberately immersing myself in the sights, sounds and smells of Vienna, I then spent the much of the event dealing with virtual and augmented worlds.
The exhibition area at AWE XR Europe had a different feel compared to Laval VR earlier this year, with fewer exhibitors overall. I felt at AWEXR the focus was primarily on technical and engineering XR applications. There were exceptions like for instance hixr’s Time Travel Berlin and Chronopolis.
Some notable observations
The playground area featured different XR experiences like Artivive and Nettle VR. Interesting exhibitors included Copresence app for virtual collaboration, Cognitive 3D for 3D modeling and Ikarus 3D’s 3D modeling software and product visualisation in general.
For me the one of the standout exhibits at AWE XR Europe was Time Travel Berlin’s, an immersive XR experience that virtually transports users back in time to 1920s Berlin. Unlike most other exhibits focused on technical demonstrations, both Time Travel Berlin and Chronopolis highlighted the humanities applications of XR through an incredibly detailed historical recreation in the case of Time travel Berlin.
Participants are immersed in a vivid simulation of the vibrant Pariser Platz outside the Brandenburg Gate, populated with period vehicles, hotels, and pedestrian crowds. The meticulous attention to accuracy and human-centered storytelling made it feel like walking through history. It showed that while XR enables engineering feats like 3D modeling, it can also profoundly enhance fields like education, heritage preservation, and narrative experiences. This innovative humanities-focused use of immersive technology was a refreshing change from the predominant tech demos. As one of the few exhibits bridging STEM and the humanities, it was undoubtedly a highlight of AWE XR Europe.
Another interesting exhibitor was Holonet, a Croatian startup offering a VR collaboration platform using realistic hologram avatars based on user photos. Their system supports see-through capabilities on glasses that have the feature. This creates a much more immersive experience than conventional VR avatars.
Delta Reality, another Croatian company, focused on delivering exceptional, meticulously crafted XR experiences. Their talented team brings together experts across technology, design and creativity to push the boundaries of immersive content.
Overall, AWE XR Europe provided a great opportunity to see the latest innovations in XR from both startups and established players. The perceived smaller size enabled more intimate networking and discovery compared to other larger events. I was able to connect with key players in the European XR ecosystem and bring back valuable insights for our team. A highlight was reconnecting with James Mifsud of ArborXR, whom I had met earlier this year at Laval XR. It was great to catch up with James and attend the afterparty together. The impromptu dinner with other attendees especially the ones from Croatia was especially enjoyable and inspirational. Events like AWEXR enable these valuable personal connections within the close-knit XR community.