VR, AR, AI in presentation design

Robots replace people. Machines take our jobs away. The boundaries between the virtual world and reality are blurring.

Sounds like a hackneyed science fiction, doesn't it?

In reality, technologies that will replace people in some professions in the future are actively developing. At the same time, these technologies will create new professions. It is no longer virtual versus real, the machine against the man — the future lies in in cooperation and the rapprochement of completely different, sometimes fundamentally opposite approaches.

The development of such technologies like AR, VR, AI which sounded incomprehensible up to recent times could not but affect the design of presentations. Therefore, we decided to make an overview of how these technologies can be applied in the design of presentations and public speaking.

§ 1. AR or Augmented Reality

Do you remember the Pokémon GO game? It is built on AR, augmented reality. From the name, it is obvious that it "augments" our usual reality: you look through the smartphone's camera and see the pokémon appear in the street.

Markers in the form of pictures or objects activate augmented reality: when such markers fall into the camera focus, a 3D object, video or static image is added to the real object. Augmented image can be displayed on any device: a smartphone, a projector, and even Google Glass.


The popularity of SnapChat app is largely due to AR usage


In public speeches, the main purpose of using something new, including new technologies, is to surprise the audience, make your speech memorable.

At the same time, augmented reality can make the presentation more understandable and compelling. Technically, for a presentation with augmented reality, you need a screen, a camera and a program that draws the AR object to the real picture. Such performances look good both in an online broadcast and a recording. For people in the real audience, a speaker that interacts with non-existent AR objects will most likely look funny.

AR suits well for demonstrating architectural objects, mechanisms and schemes. If most people are watching you online or look at your screen projection from the audience, we recommend you to think about using AR technology.


Demonstration of a new car, the speaker interacts with AR objects and shows the vehicle "piece by piece", which would be impossible in reality.

As a result, it makes sense to apply AR technology for performances with a large audience coverage. For a small number of people, creating a photorealistic supplement to your performance will rarely be appropriate.

However, this can be an interesting solution for meetings with potential customers or partners. For example, you want to show the model of your cloud software solution, which has a complex architecture to future investors. The purpose of the meeting is to show clearly the logic of the application, and not get too immersed in technical details and code. In this case, you can simply bring a picture marker and show a full-fledged 3D model of the application on your tablet, using visual analogs of the processes in the application.


Prezi also strives to introduce augmented reality in presentations and announces the product Prezi AR

§ 2. VR or Virtual Reality

VR allows to fully immerse a person in the fictional world, as it can involve not only vision but also hearing, smelling and touch.

In addition to the gaming industry and exhibitions, virtual reality technologies are also used in public speeches. Immersing a large audience in virtual reality will be problematic for the speaker — at least, there is a need to provide every viewer with virtual reality glasses and you need to consider the logic of connecting all the points into a single VR-system.

! By the way, in 2016 near 40 million people in the world were actively using VR (source).

For an important speech in front of a small audience, the game is worth the candle.

Let's say, you want to persuade investors to put up their money in a new entertainment center. Usually, you would have to carry the architectural drawings or a physical layout of the complex to the meeting, which look toylike and do not give a clear vision of what it would look like.

But if you bring virtual reality glasses with you and prepare a 3D tour for investors in advance, you can achieve a completely different effect of immersion and presence. Investors will clearly understand where their money goes — they will be able to visit the entertainment center and walk there, even despite the fact that the building only exists in the blueprints.

Another application of virtual reality is speech rehearsals. We found two services where you can run a presentation in front of a virtual audience:

1) presentationsimulator.com
2) virtualspeech.com

You can choose the number of listeners, their gender, nationality, etc. The first service also allows you to get feedback on your performance, so you can improve your speech by iteration. Thus far, this option is available only for speeches in English. We tested these services and we will certainly share our impressions in the upcoming articles.

§ 3. AI or Artificial Intelligence

We see the two most popular ways to apply neural networks and AI algorithms:

1. Analysis of performances and presentations, recommendations for their improvement

2. Automatic slide design

Analysis of performances and presentations, recommendations for their improvement

Jeremy, who now works at IBM, and before this made 108 product presentations from SalesForce during the year, used AI to analyze his performances.

He utilized a supercomputer with IBM Watson's artificial intelligence to deduce patterns — which presentations work best.

The structure and recommendations for creating slides that Jeremy received from the computer were very similar to what Nancy Duarte tells and what we teach in our courses and in the School of Corporate Presentations with the EBA:

1. One idea on one slide is good.

2. In a dark lecture hall, you should use slides with a dark background, because they do not distract attention from the speaker.

3. There should be no more than six objects on one slide (or better even three).

4. Every 6 minutes — an interactive element should be used, for example, a video, or interaction with the audience in the form of questions, otherwise the attention quickly dissipates.

5. A clear motivating call to action so that the audience accepts your idea and does not forget the main idea of the performance.

Automatic slide design

Mankind has always aspired to automation, to a minimum of manual labor and routine tasks. Perhaps, the desire to rationalize and save resources is what motivates us, or maybe, it's the unwillingness to be engaged in monotonous work. Or even laziness. The truth is probably somewhere in between of these ideas.

Therefore, the profession of a presentation designer will also change in the future. Our hypothesis goes like this: routine tasks, like layout and selection of images, will be automated with AI. For tasks that are more creative, the cooperation of man and machine will give the best results with minimal of costs.

Artificial intelligence can help with the analysis of a huge array of data, and based on this analysis and practical experience, presentation designers will be able to give recommendations on structuring information that are more accurate, preparing for speeches and highlighting the information.

! Garry Kasparov, who once won a chess game with a computer, in this TED video tells about the amazing results of a man-machine link. The man did win one of the games against a computer so you can assume that the balance of power has not yet been violated.

Microsoft also keeps its eyes on the ball and works on the automatic slide design in PowerPoint. In the latest version of PowerPoint 2016, the Design Ideas feature is available. This function advises design options for the current content of the slide, though it only offers placement of elements, and even that does not work for all types of slides.

Here is a source slide: two pictures and title

And here is the result of Design Ideas feature:

In the near future with improvements in AI algorithms, the results can be much better.

Another use of neural networks in PowerPoint is the automatic translation of slides in real time. This function has just been announced recently, and it should help translate a presentation into several languages.

In addition, QuickStarter function has appeared: "PowerPoint QuickStarter builds an outline to help you get started researching a subject of your choosing."

Set a topic on which you want to gather information, PowerPoint searches for information on open sources, splits information into sections per slides and adds slides with a list of resources and a table of contents. Suitable to conduct a research of information on the particular topic, and after scanning the slides —to dig deeper if needed.

More services on automatic slide design:

Haiku Deck Zuru

1. Analyzes the presentation, searches for the key idea on each slide, selects images for this key idea and places the text accordingly. For the time being, it works crookedly — you have to select the idea of the slide manually, the style of the background, and so on.

2. Allows you to make a presentation from a Wikipedia article, such presentations look in Zen style — minimalistic and decently.


Suitable for creating overhead presentations. First, write the headers to the slides (only in English) — the program finds relevant images to these headers, places the text, and photos on the slide. You can change fonts, text size, add additional text and choose other photos from the proposed ones.

We decided to test the service by making a couple of slides on this article, and here is the result:

So far, the photos are not always chosen right, to put it mildly. Nevertheless, for simpler topics this can be a good solution if the price of $19 per month suits you.

§ 4. Holography

Holograms do not require any additional equipment that should be available to the audience, but they are resource-consuming either for the speaker or the conference organizers.

In a nutshell, a hologram is a three-dimensional image drawn by laser beams. Holograms are very similar to real objects, and due to this, you can really denote a WOW-effect in the audience.


Watch the effect caused by the appearance of a hologram of deceased rapper Tupac at the Coachella 2012 festival.

Holograms are reproduced in recorded and live form — you can make a steep presentation, which will contain 3D laser-rendered objects. This method is great for demonstrating products at exhibitions or in front of large audiences. As in the previous cases, it is worth to correlate the possible benefits and costs, because the creation and playback of holograms on stage will cost a very considerable amount of money.


Trade show presentation

Holographic presentation at a conference


Perhaps, in a decade or two, presentations will change beyond recognition and people will never have to create slides manually again.

In any case, presentations will help to convince people and will play an important role in companies' lives. While such a future does not come, and new technologies cost unspeakable money, you should learn to make good presentations.

If you are interested in trying any of the technologies described above for your future conference or event — drop us a line. We are always open to experiments and hope we can come up with something great together.

Sincerely yours,
Reprezent team

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