Gold Coast tests digital frontiers with XR

Covid uncertainty in Australia sees extended reality experience solution for Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre

UNPREDICTABLE border closures and other travel restrictions resulting from Covid has spurred Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre into launching the world’s “biggest 1:1 scale” XR experience of its type to enable event planners to tour the venue remotely.

XR – or extended reality – is a rapidly evolving computer-generated digital experience that brings in augmented reality, mixed reality and virtual reality so spaces can be viewed on devices, enabling the users to inspect a facility.

The GCCECXR app, developed by augmented and mixed-reality experts Handbuilt Creative, superimposes a virtual model of the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre (GCCEC) onto a real-world surface that can be viewed on a computer or mobile screen.

The app allows a walk around the entire building, and through the arena, halls, and central rooms at full size. These spaces appear as a photorealistic 3D exhibition space, a gala dinner, and a seated arena.

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Faced with the challenge of offering in-person site tours in a Covid world, with unpredictable border closures and travel restrictions, the team developed a virtual solution, GCCECXR, a spokesman for the venue said.

“This is certainly one of the most advanced XR projects we’ve created so far, with the Handbuilt team pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in next-gen augmented reality worldwide,” David Shering, founder and creative director of Handbuilt Creative, said.

“GCCECXR is the world’s biggest 1:1 scale photorealistic XR experience as it’s over 200 metres long, 70m wide and 14m high. Its colossal size, and the fact you can walk anywhere to explore even small details, means you feel like you’re actually there,” Shering said.

The project was supported by Tourism Australia’s Business Events Boost Program, which also funded GCCEC’s immersive 360-video site tour earlier this year. The interactive site tour gained 5,500 views in eight weeks.

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Robin Mack, executive general manager commercial at Business Events Australia, Tourism Australia, said: “Domestic event activity is critical to getting the industry back on its feet while international travel has been on hold, and innovative projects like the GCCECXR experience help to encourage a restart to face to face business events.”

GCCEC’s director of sales and marketing, Michelle Mann, said: “Site tours are one of our key selling tools and with many clients unable to travel due to current regulations, we’ve developed new ways to allow them to view the venue from their own home or office. But this mixture of the virtual and real-world is by far the most exciting.

“Of course, nothing replaces coming to the destination, face to face, tasting our food and meeting the team, but this tool provides an excellent first experience.”

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