VR can be defined as the simultaneous depiction and experience of reality in a computer-generated, or virtual, world. AR technology superimposes computer-generated images on a user’s view of the real world, providing a composite view. Both VR and AR are accessed via a headset or pair of special glasses that are connected to a PC, tablet or smartphone.

Affordable mass-produced VR headsets have been available since early 2016, and sales of these headsets have exceeded those of early smartphones by several orders of magnitude. Google and Apple have announced that they will be releasing AR development platforms – "ARCore" (Google) and "AR-Kit" (Apple) – as early as this fall. Microsoft and other industry players are also investing heavily in AR technology. In the foreseeable future, most Android smartphones, iPhones and iPads will be able run AR applications.

However, even then, we will still be a long way off using the full potential of VR and AR. IKEA has provided a good example of where things are heading. This year, the company published a VR version of its product catalogue which enables its customers to try out different configurations of its furniture, floor coverings and home accessories range in a virtual living space. Other interior furnishing companies and interior designers are likely to follow in IKEA's footsteps, and university design faculties are also focusing their R&D efforts on intelligent VR and AR solutions. But how can someone with very little expertise in these technologies become involved? The amount of information available on VR and AR systems is overwhelming, and there is still uncertainty surrounding the commercial potential of these relatively new technologies. However, one thing is for sure: VR and AR solutions, or a combination of both, will revolutionize the customer experience as well as many existing production processes, especially in the skilled trades.

Speaking of revolutions, Deutsche Messe has supported industry, commerce and the skilled trades with its world-class events for over 70 years. Today, the company is launching a brand new range of support services designed to actively support its customers on their journey into our digital future.

Deutsche Messe's Hackvention is one of these services. Its purpose is to help the exhibitors at Deutsche Messe events leverage the full power of VR and AR technology.

In the lead-up to the next DOMOTEX, we will be running the "Hackvention Event Series", a new event format designed to help our exhibitors learn more about virtual reality solutions and their commercial potential.