18 Jun 2024 | Sam Sprigg
AWE USA 2024: Day 1 Recap
AWE USA 2024

AWE USA 2024 is finally here, and what a fantastic opening day it has been. Today’s proceedings marked the first day of our 15th anniversary event, and also the first time that the global virtual and augmented reality community has gathered at our new venue in the Long Beach Convention Center.

As with every AWE event, we’ll be covering some of each day’s highlights in our recap blog series, sharing some of the best talks, panel discussions, expo floor experiences, and networking opportunities that have been taking place at this year’s XR gathering. So, let’s get into it!

Opening Keynote

First up on the Main Stage was Ori Inbar, CEO and Co-Founder of AWE and Super Ventures, who welcomed a jam-packed room full of attendees to this special anniversary year in his keynote speech. Ori emphasized the synergy between AI and XR, and encouraged the audience to “Stop worrying” and instead learn to love AI, stating “We work really well together.” He did add a cautionary note, however, stating “If we make sure we focus our efforts on combining AI and XR, it can keep humans in control, and will keep us human.”

One of the main themes for this year is all about learning from XR’s past in order to create the future. One particularly special addition to this year’s event is the XR Hall of Fame, which celebrates the pioneers behind the rich history of VR and AR technology.

This week, attendees will be able to walk down a physical XR Walk of Fame, which can be found outside the conference venue. Make sure you take a photo next to your favorite star and learn more about all the Pioneer's in the Web AR app powered by Snap AR and artist Hart Woolery. 

There is also the chance to see some of the industry’s most fascinating pieces of tech in the XR History Museum sponsored by the AR Alliance, with many of the items in there being loaned to AWE by the pioneers themselves.

Concluding his keynote, Ori encouraged attendees to engage with the Pioneers and learn from the history of XR in order to build the future of the spatial computing industry. And with that, the conference opened up fully, including the Expo Floor, which hasn’t opened on Day 1 for many years.

Main Stage Talks

Next up on the Main Stage was a triple-whammy of talks from XR industry titans, with Qualcomm leading the charge, followed by Meta, and then Snap.

Creating the Immersive Future

Walking onto the Main Stage right after AWE’s CEO was Said Bakadir, Sr. Director, Product Management at Qualcomm. The company of course has a long history with AWE, going back many years to the very early days of the conference.

Bakadir discussed how Qualcomm leads in intelligent computing for smart devices, and how one of the keys to the company’s success has been the tight vertical integration with its partners, to ensure top-notch user experiences. He also emphasized how the company is facilitating AI integration and processing capabilities among devices, noting how the Qualcomm AI Hub supports developers by optimizing AI models and offering a device farm for pre-market testing.

“The best way to interact with Gen AI is XR,” according to Bakadir.

Expanding All Your Worlds with Meta: Work, Education, your whole Lifestyle

Jamie Keane - Director, Product Management, for Meta announced the new Meta Quest Lifestyle App Accelerator – where Meta will provide grant funding and mentorship to developers, in partnership with venture partners who are committing to nurturing the ecosystem of Meta Quest founders. 

The Accelerator is designed to spur the development of prototype consumer experiences that help people explore their interests and communities around them. Whether you are new to mixed reality development or are part of a seasoned development team, we want to see how your ideas can enrich people’s lives and help kickstart your company to do so. Apply now, applications close October 15th, 2024.

Advancing Snap AR Through Generative AI

After Qualcomm’s talk, Bobby Murphy, Snap’s CTO and Co-Founder took to the stage, joined by Social AR Developer, Influencer and Designer Paige Piskin, and Mike Boland, AR Insider’s Chief Analyst.

The talk covered how the advancements in generative AI (GenAI) are helping to unleash truly endless creative possibilities in augmented reality, and explored new GenAI tools are now at everyone’s fingertips.

Other Inspiring Track Talks and Discussions

It wasn’t just the Main Stage that had all the action. Elsewhere, there were some truly inspiring talks throughout the day across the 14 other agenda tracks at this year’s event. 

Po Gets A New Platform: How Studios Like Universal Pictures 

  • Roblox, Universal Pictures, Sawhorse and Variety came together to discuss their brand IP collaboration for Kung Fu Panda 4 in the social gaming platform - The Kung Fu Panda 4 Obby on Roadblocks. The panel's collaboration to make the most of branded IP stood out. The group noted how spatial activations in Roblox reign-in existing fans and help filmmakers reach new audiences with gaming. 

How Warner Records & Amazevr Are Bringing K-Pop & Rock to Spatial Experiences

  • The partnership between Warner Music and Amaze VR is giving artists and music labels reach fans in new, deeper ways. VR concerts give fans a better than-front-row view of their favorite bands with added layers of engagement & community. Starting is hybrid VR x theater releases and then rolling out to VR streaming channels requires the teams to work like concert and gaming marketers.

Ikea's Journey Through 3d Visualization and Spatial Computing

  • Martin Enthed emphasized the journey and future directions of IKEA in 3D visualization and spatial computing, highlighting significant milestones, continuous improvements, and collaboration with standards organizations.The talk highlighted the challenges and vision that propelled their digital evolution. It underscored how these technologies have offered immersive and interactive experiences with products in a virtual environment.

Press Walkthrough and Opening of the AWE Expo Floor

Jumping back in time a little, at 10:00am this morning, hundreds of keen members of the global press were shown around the Expo Floor to get an early preview of a few select exhibitors. 

This year, the walkthrough stopped at a total of 18 booths, with each company showcasing their latest XR hardware and software solutions, including: Infinite Rabbit Holes, Sawhorse, bHaptics, DigiLens, Unity, Immersal, Taiwanese Pavilion, Sisu VR, FreeAim, Body of Mine VR, ForgeFX, SenseGlove, Sony, Ultraleap, The2H, Tap Systems, Sightful, and Meta.


There have been
dozens of press announcements made already from this year’s event, and we are still just on Day 1. To view these, just click here.

Once the Press had received their early access treatment, the doors to the Expo Floor at the LBCC were finally thrown open to everyone else and in filed thousands of attendees, all eager to see what this year’s exhibitors had in store for them.

We’ll cover the Expo Floor some more in our Day 2 and Day 3 blogs.

Vision Workshop

Jumping back in time again, even further – we of course can’t forget to mention the Vision Workshop sponsored by Unity, which was held at the very beginning of the week on Monday, before the doors had even opened to the main event.

Attendees who had purchased this special add-on for the workshop were able to enjoy an educational day learning how to build apps for Apple Vision Pro and visionOS, with global spatial computing experts passing on their first-hand knowledge and experience of working with Apple’s XR headset.

The Vision Workshop also provided the perfect photo opportunity for those XR community members lucky enough to have a Vision Pro to show-off their devices together.

Special On-Site Activations at AWE

Each year there are always some special activations, apps, and activities taking place at AWE USA. There are things like fun Instagram Filters, Snap Lenses for attendees to enjoy and share their experience at the event - see them all here.

Plus, as mentioned earlier in Ori Inbar’s keynote - there is of course the XR History Museum, which this year is sponsored by the AR Alliance. The museum will be open throughout the course of the event, and gives attendees the opportunity to witness some of the earliest prototypes, headsets, wearables, and all other kinds of devices from XR’s past. Some truly unique items are on display in this first year of the XR History Museum, including:

  • Original Oculus prototypes courtesy of Palmer Luckey.
  • A replica of the first multisensory theater experience, Sensorama from 1961.
  • Ivan Sutherland's first ever Head Mounted Display from 1968
  • The NASA VIEW Lab from 1987 which pioneered the development of many VR technologies including fully immersive head-coupled displays.

Make sure you don’t miss out on discovering some truly incredible historic technology on display in the museum. Who knows, it genuinely might inspire you to create a legendary piece of XR history that will be viewed at future museums in years to come. Plus, don’t forget to give our social activations a try and share your AWE experience using the hashtag #AWE2024. 

Welcome Party sponsored by Zappar

With this first day of talks and exhibits coming to a close, we are now getting excited to go to this year’s AWE Welcome Party, sponsored by Zappar, which is taking place at The Cove - on the street level behind the Convention Center.

Make sure you swing by and grab a ‘Zappar-ol Spritz,’ and come and say hi to your fellow attendees. And if you’re NOT yet at the event and are arriving on either Day 2 or Day 3, don’t worry - there will be plenty more chances and opportunities to catch up with your friends in the XR community, and experience all that is on offer at AWE USA this year.

And if you’ve not yet got tickets to any day of the event – what are you waiting for? Don’t miss out, as we can assure you that the FOMO will be real. Tickets are still available, and we’d love to see you at this year’s best AR/VR conference, where you’ll feel spatial, we promise!

Get Tickets, feel spatial 😍

We’ll see you tomorrow, for more XR-fuelled fun and awesomeness, which we’ll document in our Day 2 recap blog.


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