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25.04.2024 | The Penta

Immersive horizons transforming communication

Fast forward to… today. So much is changing so fast for communication and media professionals. Technological opportunities focusing on extended reality (XR), mixed reality (MR), augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) pop up at the speed of light. But how to embrace these opportunities? By delving into the power of “all things reality”.

Upgrading user experiences in virtual reality? Check! Boosting news consumption using AR filters? Check! Extending reality with augmented animation at an event? Check! Immersive storytelling using mixed reality? Check! Check! Check!

Let’s Talk Reality gathers speakers from both industry and academia, who will share the latest insights on “all things reality”. And of course, you’ll get to experience some extended reality applications yourself. You will walk away with tons of inspiration on AR/VR/MR, contemplating the many possibilities of these technologies for your own business or practice. And as always, there will be time to connect with old and new friends.

Happy days! It’s our 10th anniversary edition and for the occasion curated by NewZ Lab.


Curated by Newz lab

First names...

Bas Gezelle

The future of brand engagement is spatial. XR is already the largest digital format after video on mobile. All major social media platforms GenZ interacts with (Meta, Snapchat and TikTok) have their own AR platform and WebAR (AR on mobile websites) is growing rapidly. With XR headsets entering the consumer market, there’s really only one thing brands should follow closely and it’s XR! Bas Gezelle will show you current possibilities for building a spatial presence as well as look into the future of what’s to come.

Bas, co-founder and strategy lead of PLAYAR, boasts 15 years of digital advertising expertise. PLAYAR is an immersive experience agency specializing in augmented reality (AR). Using the latest technologies in body tracking, object recognition and spatial positioning, they create branded experiences that turn the real world into a virtual playground. Based in Antwerp, PLAYAR works for brands all over the world.

Steven Plöger (DE)

At the Axel Springer Academy of Journalism and Technology, students work on AR-storytelling. Together with the tech company Snap Inc., immersive journalistic formats are being created for a young generation. Steven Plöger shares the important learnings from the interdisciplinary collaboration, examples of AR-projects and how journalism can be made for Gen Z.

Steven Plöger is a journalist and manager for Audience Development and Digital Reach at Axel Springer. He has worked in the media industry for more than 10 years in various positions, including at Bild and Business Insider. He works at the interface between technology and journalism: he explores innovative new technologies and investigates AI-driven platforms.

Ewoud Herregat

How will we experience music in the future? Will we attend hybrid concerts using AR and large ledscreens? Or will we send our avatars to virtual concerts in the metaverse? The VMX project (Howest/PXL) searches for innovative matches between the music industry and game technologies to create true virtual music experiences. 

DAE researcher, Ewoud Herregat, uses his background in game prototyping and experience in developing AR and VR applications to enhance or create new music experiences. He will showcase AR experiences for the band Psychonaut, a digital twin of concert venue with matching acoustic properties and a live show in 3D immersive audio enhanced with AI-generated video. 

Sarah Vierstraete

Imagine using AR-filters to explain complex topics to a young audience. Does this trigger Generation Z to consume news differently? And is it feasible for newsrooms to create, invest and monetize on these formats? It’s not just about delivering information anymore; it’s about creating immersive, interactive encounters that resonate with Gen Z’s digital-savvy mindset.

Apart from being lecturer at Howest in all things visual design, Sarah Vierstraete, is one of the researchers at NewZ Lab. She is eager to share the learnings on AR-filters in news content for Gen Z.

Jelle Demanet

Let’s discover the future together! Jelle Demanet’s talk focuses on the latest developments in XR-technology and their impact on our society at large. Showcasing relevant examples from different industries, ranging from education over healthcare to entertainment, this talk illustrates how XR-technologies increasingly influence our daily lives and push the boundaries of our imagination.

Jelle Demanet is a cognitive psychologist with a special interest in extended reality and data science. He is head of the AI startup Apollo8, coordinator of the Human Interface Technology lab (HITlab) at Howest and is co-founder of the networking organization XRvalley.

Graham Roberts (US)

Join Graham Roberts, founder of the Immersive Storytelling team at The New York Times, for a discussion on spatial computing as it applies to design and storytelling. The conversation will include lessons from building the team and their efforts exploring innovative technologies like augmented reality, and how the work relates to the past and future of media. 

Graham is an information designer, based in Berkeley, California, whose work has explored new possibilities in communication in response to the impact of innovation in platforms and technologies. His career has spanned journalism, technology, branding, and advertising, with the common thread of engaging audiences through the design of narrative experiences that use data and information as the raw material for creative expression. Currently he is working for global creative agency, Havas.

Sarah Markewich

Newsmaking with AR-statistics and data visualization during elections? 3D-effects in media content for young consumers? AR-advertising during sporting events? The project Media XR & 5G aims to introduce media and entertainment companies to a range of crossmedia formats enabled by 5G-technology. Target audience of these innovative formats? Gen Z at large! This project is a collaboration between Howest Digital Arts & Entertainment and AP Hogeschool.

Sarah Markewich helps coordinate DAE research projects related to how game technologies can innovate your industry or business. With a background in Media and Communication Science, which most recently focused on how VR can be used in journalistic storytelling to enhance empathy, Sarah is a big fan of moving, immersive experiences.



doors open

Welcome to the immersive playground

Jan Dauwe

Manager Business & Media Educational Programmes at Howest

Steven Plöger

Head of Immersive News at Axel Springer

Sarah Vierstraete

Communications researcher at NewZ Lab

Jelle Demanet


drinks & bites in the immersive playground


Bas Gezelle


Ewoud Herregat


Sarah Markewich


drinks & sweets in the immersive playground



17:30 - 22:30


The VIP Experience

The perfect teambuilding this spring: explore Let’s Talk Reality as a VIP with exclusive early access and a sneak peek of all cutting-edge AR, VR or XR experiences. Support us by booking the VIP Experience for €500,- (excl 21% VAT) which includes 5 tickets, bubbles & tapas and your logo visible on screen during the event! Contact Evelien.Martens@howest.be to register.


As an alumnus of the bachelor Communications program or graduate Marketing- & Communications Support , you will receive a unique code via email to purchase 1+1 ticket. The perfect time to meet up with former fellow students. Didn’t receive the code? Send a message to Evelien.Martens@howest.be.


As a student, you can enjoy the student rate and get a free ticket. There are only 30 places available! For this, you need to email a scan of your student card with clearly visible validity date to Evelien.Martens@howest.be to register.

Curated by


Shaping the immersive news landscape

In today’s digital age, Gen Z is revolutionizing how news is consumed. They’re bypassing traditional channels and flocking to platforms like Instagram and TikTok for their daily dose of information. But how can brands and organizations stay relevant in this ever-changing landscape?

Gen Z craves engaging, customized content that seamlessly integrates into their social media feeds. NewZ Lab is experimenting with the creation of news experiences tailored specifically for this audience. Imagine accessing breaking news stories through captivating AR filters and effects on Snap. It’s not just about delivering information – it’s about creating immersive, interactive experiences that resonate with Gen Z‘s digital-savvy mindset.


The Penta

Campus The Penta at Howest is the newest addition to Kortrijk’s trendiest district. Together with Hangar K, a co-creation hub for start-ups and entrepreneurs such as Flanders Game Hub, Depart, a multifunctional event hall, Lago, an Olympic swimming pool and the construction of an ecological city park, this cross-pollination forms an exciting and thriving place for the communication professional of tomorrow.

Howest, Campus Kortrijk Weide – The Penta
Sint-Martens-Latemlaan 1B
8500 Kortrijk
📞+32 56 24 12 11

By train
The railway station is less than 1,5 km from campus. You can walk on foot to the campus.

By car
Within walking distance, you can park at Howest Parking 3 or 4.

Scream and shout and let it all out

Portret van Evelien Martens, coördinator van de Let's Talk evenementen de bachelor opleiding communicatiemanagement aan Howest, hogeschool West-Vlaanderen campus Kortrijk
Captcha screenshot uit het Campagnebeeld van Let's Talk Human georganiseerd door Howest Communicatiemanagement

Contact  Evelien Martens, Let’s Talk team lead and lecturer in Marketing & Events in the bachelor Communications at Howest in Kortrijk.

✉️ evelien.martens@howest.be

📞 +32 486 739 762

Thanks to our partners