AWE headed to Xi’an China, the Silicon Valley of Western China earlier this month for the first AWE Asia. The augmented reality event was the largest of its kind in Asia and attracted over 1,600 attendees over the course of the two days. People from the East and West gathered at the City Gate conference centre to hear from 45 thought leaders in VR and AR and wearable tech and go hands-on with the latest in emerging technology in the expo area which wrapped around the building with 60 exhibitors.
The day kicked off with opening remarks from Guosheng Yang, Vice Secretary of the Xi’an Business Bureau before moving into a look at the market opportunity of augmented reality by Ori Inbar, CEO & Co-founder of AugmentedReality.org – the producing organization behind AWE. Inbar focused much of his talk on how AR, VR and wearable tech can bring “superpowers to the people” emphasizing how these technologies are a big leap for mankind and have the potential to better anything that we do in both life and work. For Inbar, the future of AR inevitable. “When your glass-wearing classmates, workmates and playmates perform better than you, can you afford not to wear it?” he asked the crowd.
At the end of his opening talk, Inbar made two big announcements strengthening the relationship between the US and China. AugmentedReality.org will be establish an augmented reality community in China through an Augmented Reality China Alliance (ARCA) and will be launching AugmentedReality.org.cn to support this. In addition to this alliance, Inbar announced the first international AR incubator connected with a bridge between Silicon Valley and China to help innovation flow in both directions and accelerate the growth of this industry. The dual incubator will help AR entrepreneurs in the US and China build their companies in Silicon Valley and China respectively, and then help with the cross over to the other side of the pacific ocean to reach new markets.
The momentum of the morning continued as Yijian Wu, President of Board of Directors of Ginwa Enterprise Group, Chairman of Ginwa Enterprise and Renhua Yang, Deputy Director of Xi’an High-Tech Zone Management Committee both took the stage to welcome the crowd and talk about the importance of this event in Xi’an.
Following an official launch ceremony which ended with an actual bang (of confetti that is), the main stage continued to host a number of thought leaders and experts from all over the world to present the various opportunities for augmented and virtual reality.
Augmented Reality specialist Sonny Xin provided a great overview of the China AR ecosystem and the key technologies in play in Asia which acted as a great lead in to a series of SDK and technology deep dives from EasyAR, Intel, Qualcomm, Lenovo and Wikitude.
The opportunity to connect offline to online especially in commerce and retail was the topic of focus by Catchoom, Zugara and Chengdu Weily who all presented success stories of the use of augmented reality to further the consumer experience and allow brands to interact with users in a physical space in a digital manner.
AR in Education and Toys was another series of talks at AWE Asia with two of China’s most successful implementations of AR in these spaces NEOBEAR and RealMax (which partnered with Pearson) taking the stage to talk about their experiences in furthering play and learning through augmented reality. Looking at education from a B2B perspective, Jan Witkamp from Bosch took the stage to talk about the future of technical documentation and how AR turns your documentation into an efficient digital manual.
Whereas Day 1 of the conference focused much on software, the second day of the event hosted a series of talks on the stage which revolved around new hardware including a look at wearables, smart glasses and virtual reality headsets from the likes of Mark Billinghurst, eMagin’s Dan Cui, Tapu Instrument’s Jackie Yu and an in-depth look at VR by Lincoln Liu of Beijing Gevek Technology. The second day of the conference also saw a focus on the use of augmented reality in the industry and a look at how marketing is being disrupted by this technology with a hands-on keynote from Blippar’s Sean Nichols.
The two-days came to a close with the announcement of the very first AWE Asia Auggie award which went to EasyAR with honorable mentions going out to Octagon Studio, Watchhhh, Tapu, and Kiss Future.
You can check out pics from AWE Asia including shots from our thriving exhibitor area from the show here.
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