At The WXO, we want to connect the dots across the Experience Economy and across the globe – so each month, we bring you our round-up of the experiential stories that we think reveal something interesting, relevant or transferrable about the Experience Economy.
Welcome to the latest Experience Radar, where we’re being soothed in cyberspace by Repklia’s new wellness avatar, injecting some fun into Zoom meetings thanks to Apple’s new Vision Pro headset, and being serenated by Elvis in hologram form.
1. Connection At Heart Of 2024 Experience Trends
The importance of community and human connections are at the heart of VML’s tenth edition of its The Future 100 report exploring the latest trends that will be shaping our lives this year. A recent VML survey of over 3,000 adults in the UK, US and China found that 91% of people want to feel more emotion in their lives; 70% prefer to spend their money on experiences not things; and 83% of people are actively seeking experiences that bring them joy and happiness. The survey also found that 67% of people believe community is more important than the individual and 76% think technology helps to bring people together.
Our global thirst to connect with each other is ushering in a new era of collective shared experiences around the world unifying friends and strangers in what VML is dubbing ‘prosocial effervescence’. “With most consumers looking for surprise, mystery, awe and wonder in their lives, new experiences that engage a wide spectrum of emotions are in demand,” say the report’s co-authors, Emma Chiu and Marie Stafford, citing ‘emotioneering’ and ‘sensory techtopias’ as two emerging trends to look out for in 2024.
This year will also see us slowing down and taking a more mindful approach to life and experiences, according to VML, which dubbed the trend ‘the great deceleration’. The role brands play in our society is also shifting, as people seek emotional engagement with the brands they buy from. The VML survey found 79% of people think brands should be working towards making the world a better place, improving people’s wellbeing and creating a more hopeful future.
2. Replika Launches Wellness Avatar Experience
Generative AI leader Replika has launched a new avatar called Tomo designed to boost users’ wellbeing. As reported by Forbes, Tomo is an immersive AI spiritual and mental guidance experience that uses cutting-edge tech to help users find peace amid the digital chaos. The avatar is currently available for iOS users and is in development for Apple’s Vision Pro. It’s the first app of its kind to combine an interactive 3D environment, AI guidance using Generative AI, and coaching from clinical specialists. After answering a series of questions, users choose from 11 programmes exploring personal growth and wellbeing.
Led by an AI avatar guide, these transformative experiences, including yoga, meditation, talk therapy, and positive affirmations, unfold within a serene 3D landscape accompanied by a soothing soundtrack. As people progress, they unlock 3D objects that facilitate a deeper exploration of their inner lives. “Spiritual healing and growth are at the forefront of Tomo; we want to re-awaken the spirituality at the core of the human experience,” said Replika’s CEO, Eugenia Kuyda. “While technology is often blamed for a lack of spiritual and wellness development, we believe it offers unlimited potential for growth.”
3. Elvis Hologram Show To Premier In London
Rock ‘n’ roll icon Elvis has been the subject of two recent blockbuster movies and now the King is getting his own touring hologram show. As reported by The Guardian, Elvis Evolution, an immersive concert experience using AI and holographic projection, will premiere in London in November, with shows also planned in Las Vegas, Tokyo and Berlin. The cutting-edge tech will create a life-sized digital Elvis from thousands of personal photos and home-video footage. The hologram is the fruit of a deal between Authentic Brands Group, owners of the Elvis Presley estate, and UK immersive entertainment firm Layered Reality.
“Elvis Evolution is a tribute to the musical legend that is Elvis Presley. People around the world no longer want to sit and passively receive entertainment – they want to be a part of it,” said Andrew McGuinness, CEO of Layered Reality, who said the show will be “a memory-making experience that will be a bucket-list item for Elvis fans and admirers around the world”. The experience will allow super fans to walk in Elvis’s shoes and celebrate his unique musical legacy. Elvis Evolution will boast an Elvis-themed bar and restaurant on site at its central London location, with live music, DJs and live performances each night.
(McGuinness will be sharing more about the experience in a WXO Campfire later this month…)
4. Top Visitor Attraction Trends Of 2024
With each new year comes a slew of trends predictions and we were interested to delve into BlooLoop’s take on the biggest trends shaking up the attractions and LBE sector this year. Spanning everything from robot staffers and the rise of immersive tech to ethical, eco-friendly experiences that are accessible to all, it looks set to be a year where visitor expectations are higher than ever. “In 2024, guests want to be immersed in elaborate environments or gamified experiences. They want to play an active role in an attraction, and they want to do it ethically,” a spokesperson for BlooLoop said.
Last year’s gamification trend will gather speed this year as theme park operators develop new tech and concepts to add an interactive layer to their attractions, with Universal’s Super Nintendo World is leading the way. Immersive tech such as AI, AR, VR, holograms, LED screens and projection mapping is also on the rise, with visitors expecting total immersion from LBEs and attractions now. BlooLoop predicts an ongoing appetite for horror experiences and ‘recreational fear’. You can also expect to see more AI bots greeting you at theme parks – we like the sound of the Museum of the Future in Dubai’s interactive robodog, created by Boston Dynamics.
Immersive art championed by the likes of Meow Wolf and teamLab isn’t going anywhere either, so expect to see more venues popping up that make a hero of tech-driven artworks. Meanwhile, looking back in time is also trending, as experience designers seek to bring the past to life in exciting ways. We’re looking forward to the opening of the immersive William Shakespeare museum in Shoreditch, masterminded by Bompas & Parr, which will bring the bard and the sights, sounds and smells of Elizabethan London to life. Finally, it’s going to be a big year for Peppa Pig, as the sassy sow will get theme parks in Texas and Germany, having conquered Florida with her own themed venue.
5. Disney Unveils HoloTile Floor Tech
It’s one small step for man, one giant leap for tech, as Disney has unveiled a new nifty innovation that could become the bedrock of future VR experiences. As reported by the Evening Standard, the HoloTile lets a person walk around a virtual reality environment without moving much in the real world. While the idea of omnidirectional treadmills such as the Omni Virtuix and the Infinadeck are already out there, Disney’s version is more ambitious and can support multiple people moving on the same surface, even if they walk in different directions. Linked to a computer that tracks movement, the HoloTile flooring is made of small elements that can spin in different directions.
Disney announced the news with a video of Imagineer Lanny Smoot walking viewers through how the HoloTile works. “It will automatically do whatever it needs to have me stay on the floor,” he says. “Imagine a number of people in a room, being able to be somewhere else, collaboratively, and moving around sightseeing.” HotoTile tech could be used in theatres to move performers around the stage and make greater use of a limited space. While we don’t know how it works or how much it costs, Disney has dubbed the HoloTile “the world’s first multi-person, omnidirectional, modular, expandable, treadmill floor”.
6. Zoom Launches Immersive App For Vision Pro
Your Monday morning meetings might be a little more interesting in the future, as Zoom has just unveiled a videoconferencing app designed specifically for Apple’s Vision Pro mixed-reality headset. The app aims to seamlessly blend videoconferencing with users’ physical space, blurring the lines of in-person and remote meetings with the Apple Vision Pro helping remote teams to feel more connected. The app will let you appear either as an authentic spatial representation of yourself or as a digital avatar, allowing attendees to see your face and hand movements.
The new Zoom app will also let you enjoy an immersive experience that can be scaled to a size ideal for those wanting “to feel like they’re in the same room as their colleagues without the need for additional physical equipment.” The app will include additional features such as real-world pinning, where the Vision Pro wearer will be able to pin up to five Zoom meeting participants anywhere in their physical space, and 3D object sharing, which will bring content sharing to life, allowing animators and game designers to show colleagues objects in the context of an environment.
7. Cosm To Power Europe’s First LED Dome
Global tech giant Cosm, which builds end-to-end solutions for immersive experiences that fuse the virtual and physical worlds, is set to power Europe’s first-ever LED dome at the Prague Planetarium. As reported by BlooLoop, the renovation project is set to create the most technically advanced planetarium of its kind, which will include an extended 22 metre CX System LED dome display with 8K+ resolution and in excess of 45 million pixels. Visitors can expect exceptional viewing experiences and pin-sharp clarity, contrast and brightness via Cosm’s CX System, an end-to-end immersive technology solution.
The CX System includes Digistar 7, the world’s most advanced planetarium system, and a deep integration of Unreal Engine. With this, Prague Planetarium will be able to present hyper immersive, high-quality astronomy simulations and scientific visualisations. The integration of the CX System also enables for bespoke in-house experiences and events. With the installation of Cosm’s CX System, an LED dome and Shared Reality software platform, the attraction, which is due to reopen in 2025, will set the standard for the next generation of planetariums, offering a brightness over 100 times that of projection domes.