Some of us from Insight took a day out of the office last week to attend the Event Production Show at Earls Court 2, London, one of the highlights of UK events calendar.
As we are always looking to make use of new technologies to help optimise our clients’ events, one of the seminars we were most interested in seeing was ‘Trends for event technology in 2014.’
Presented by James Dickson of Event Industry News (standing in for Adam Parry), we heard how in the past event managers have viewed technology in terms of separate optional channels, but technology has moved on and channels can no longer be seen as separate. Engagement now includes the latest advances of the past few years; from wearable technology (such as NFC rings and wristbands to smart watches and of course Google glasses) to new ways of communicating with the audience at an event; there are now even more opportunities to make the experience richer for delegates and organisers alike.
“technology has moved on and channels can no longer be seen as separate”
Some wearable technology has been used most commonly in the events industry at large outdoor events such as festivals. As shown in the video below, visitors can link their Facebook profile to their RFID wristband, which is then used as a secure entry mechanic, virtually ‘checking in’ at each event / location inside the venue. Using similar technology to a library book tag or Oyster card, the chip can contain a rich level of user data that is used for validation and storing information about a visitors interaction as they go around the event. This technology can also be used to collect user-generated content from the event or to upload photos from the event to the brand’s Facebook wall, for example.
Other types of technology that will be familiar include facial recognition software for delegates, allowing quick and simple event entry or badge scanning, and the ongoing trend of crowdsourcing. Simply put, crowdsourcing is just a way of obtaining the views, ideas or content from a large group of people, and especially from an online community. It has the added benefit of being able to reach more people than is usually possible from the event alone, so for example, organisers can include the views of people who cannot attend the event, or those who do attend can contribute in a richer way than usual. Some of the ways that crowdsourcing has been implemented in the events world include;
- – Sharing, voting and funding via remote devices in the audience
- – Mobile polling devices
- – Real-time feedback
- – Enhanced data capture, to benefit brand partnerships, sponsorship targeting etc.
- – Audience participation (e.g. for London 2012 the audience participated in the show display via each audience member holding up a LED tablet, forming a themed display around the auditorium. More than just being a one-off for the Olympics, this idea has been quickly adapted by the events industry. For example, a delegates’ phone can be turned into an individual pixel as part of the display via a pre-installed bespoke event app, which could be adapted to form a company logo or brand as part of a display with the audience, played back on camera as part of the event. The potential applications are endless!)
According to the trends predictions discussed, apps have now become a central part of an event organisers’ checklist, rather than a preferable option. With over 100 different conference apps available, the option to create a bespoke app, customised to the event, and apps to manage mutliple events, this is now something the industry needs to embrace. Apps now also cover the organising side, with content creation apps such as Eventifier, Conferize, Storify, and Bundlr.
“Apps have now become a central part of an event organisers’ checklist, rather than a preferable option.”
One of the Apple’s latest advances which could have a useful application in the events industry is the application of devices called ‘iBeacons’ are placed around the venue and operate via proximity to nearby users to send useful information to the user. Beyond its common use in retail, the events industry can also benefit, for example delegates can be sent notifications such as a welcome message from the event, navigation information, conference information, and can even act as a payment gateway.
So, what’s next for the future? According to Event Industry News, tech will be getting bigger and better to create the ultimate wow factor (think bigger screens and 3D effects, for starters).
Projection mapping is also getting frequently popular, as it becomes more affordable for events. Insight have been using projection mapping to enhance events for the last few years, check out our mini showreel below!
Discussions with some of the exhibitors in the rest of the hall also brought about some ideas that would benefit all sorts of client events. We’re often thinking of the next new idea and some of these trends will certainly see an application at an event near you very soon!