While big-name forays into virtual reality make headlines, such as Steven Spielberg’s plan to build a VR storefront in Los Angeles this fall, another reality is steadily encroaching on real life: augmented reality.   

It’s easy to see why. Virtual reality requires, at minimum, the use of clunky goggles that users must secure their smartphones into and then strap onto their faces. Augmented reality, on the other hand, needs just two things to overlay images and data onto the real world: a smartphone with a camera and a Wi-Fi connection. Who doesn’t have that these days?

Augmented reality is “a big idea, like the smartphone,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a February interview with the The Independent. “The smartphone is for everyone; we don’t have to think the iPhone is about a certain demographic, or country or vertical market: It’s for everyone. I think AR is that big. It’s huge. I get excited because of the things that could be done that could improve a lot of lives.”

It’s one of the reasons why the mobile-augmented reality game Pokemon Go was such a blockbuster last summer.  

According to SmithBucklin’s annual trend report Circuit, Groupe Spéciale Mobile Association’s real-time mobile-device tracker found that the number of mobile devices is multiplying five times faster than the world’s population. The market potential is clear.

For professional meeting planners, mobile devices put the power of augmented reality into their hands. Trend reports such as Circuit are already forecasting the growing impact this ubiquitous technology can have in real-time conference planning, attendee outreach, educational programs, product demos and speeches.

Imagine attendees browsing the trade show floor in real life, looking around the event space and seeing these interactive items and information appear in front of them in the real world:

1. Event schedules, vendor information and social media posts
2. Memberships or products to purchase
3. A person’s name and the company or organization she represents, along with contact information

And though augmented reality is rapidly becoming a more accessible technology, virtual meetings are also advancing. Today’s launch of Chime, Amazon’s own virtual meeting service, shows that the world of meeting planning, especially business meetings, knows no boundaries.