“Blessed are the Geek, for they shall inherit the earth…”
Event Technology is here to stay and is only getting more prevalent. On November 22nd, Our very own Josh Coulas (MediaLab Manager) and Anthony Vade (Account Manager and snapchatter extraordinaire) took to the stage at ILEAtalks to present some of the most important event technologies of 2016. I know sometimes it can get overwhelming and at times hard to keep up.
Even as a self-proclaimed tech junkie sometimes my colleagues will bring me new tech and I’m just like:
(Prince Eric’s reaction is an uncanny to the look I get from our Solutions Specialists)
So whether you’re an intermediate or a novice techie these are the top 5 #EventTech trends of 2016 and why they matter today and where they're going tomorrow.
Second Screen Technology
In this day and age, everyone and their grandma has a smartphone and the average person spends over 8 hours a day on their devices. We live in a very connected culture so how do we engage a group who are head-first into their smart devices during your events? How do you keep them in the moment and focused on your message?
You embrace it! You make those devices work for you, and you do it with second screen technology.
Second Screen brings your main screen content directly to their device and allows you to connect with your audience via their devices to your presentation
So, while you’re presenting, you can Implement services like Live Q&A, Live Polling, Live Slide Sharing all accessed on audience’s devices and with social media integration, audiences can easily tweet out slides during your event, enhancing your event’s exposure. Through all this interaction, you’ll benefit from analytics that lead to opportunities that are actionable.
Ultimately, second screen technology allows your audience to contribute to the discussion, share topics from the presentation they like on social media, connect with those around them, and feel more engaged with the presenter and everyone else at the event and THAT is what audiences expect in today’s “connected” culture.
Virtual Reality for the planner
Virtual Reality (VR) really boomed in 2016 and what seems like a fad has some very REAL benefits for the events industry (see what I did there?). Virtual Reality technology transports the viewer into a virtual world or virtual experience via a head mounted display. There are currently three primary types of VR solutions available today. Each has a different use-case:
Google Cardboard is what we would call “Accessible” VR. The headsets are just made of cardboard and are very cheap. The user installs an app onto their phone and slides it into the cardboard headset and is ready for a simple VR experience. This solution is very deployable to large numbers of people, however, the next two solutions produce a better quality experience.
Devices like Samsung’s GearVR or Google’s brand new Daydream provide a more refined experience over Cardboard yet are still very portable. The cardboard and GearVR, while portable, are only stationary experiences. You can’t physically move around in the experience. Solutions like the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift provide the ultimate room scale virtual reality experience. Running off a powerful computer, these devices truly make you feel a sense of “presence” in the virtual space. With motion controllers and room sensors, you can walk around and interact with the virtual experience.
Cool right, but what does this mean for the events industry? Think about any time you’ve had a hard time visualized what a floorplan of rendering will look like in reality. Now think Virtual Reality pre-visualisations and true-to-scale representations. Game changing.
If Virtual Reality is immersing the user in a completely virtual environment, augmented reality (AR) is taking virtual objects and adding them on top of the real world, changing the way we see the world.
There are many trade show applications where augmented reality really shines. One huge one these days is gamification. Have attendees find augmented reality waypoint stations to collect points or cards during a conference that could be displayed to leaderboards on digital signage. Another great use of AR is for product and brand activations. For example, you could have a physical product on display with a tablet pointing at it. When an attendee looks at the product all they see is the product. However, once the attendee looks at the product through the tablet they see buttons or videos surrounding the product they can interact with to get more information.
So, why choose augmented reality?
It can encourage engagement and generate leads, at and post event. The “power of play” has been researched greatly and we do not need to tell you that it works. The element of “play” or “fun” allows for formality to be broken down. Attendees let down their guard. They open their minds and with a smart strategy you can impart whatever messaging is important. Augmented Reality is a great tool to bring some fun into the messaging.
By enhancing brand experience you can cement knowledge in the attendees mind and generate marketing buzz. By making the experience “fun” it inspires them to share the brand/event with their community.
Engagement and tracking tools
We hear it all the time, “we need to drive more engagement at our events”. With the rise of Near Field Communication (NFC) and Beacon Technology this is now a far more measurable goal. This may be one of the more under-buzzed event tech trend. It may not be as glamorous as it’s peers, VR and AR, but it still packs an ROI punch.
So how do these work? Well, let’s start with NFC. What is it exactly? Simply put, it's a method of wireless data transfer that triggers technology in close proximity to communicate without the need for an internet connection. When I say close proximity I mean really close, as in a few centimetres close. It’s the same tech that allows you to just “tap” your credit card to pay for things. It’s great for information gathering and attendee tracking with wristbands, badges, or smartphones.
BEACONS are devices that use battery-friendly, low-energy Bluetooth connections to transmit messages or prompts directly to a smartphone or tablet. While NFC has a distance of a few centimetres to communicate, BEACONS have a distance of a few feet to communicate. BEACONS are great for providing additional info on a product on display or real-time attendee updates where an attendee can get an update on a change in a conference schedule via beacon-enabled alerts that can reach the right attendees based on their location.
So what makes these technologies so important to the event industry?
Knowledge is power. The more you know about your attendees interactions at your events, the better you can strategize the outcomes and objectives. Here are the top 6 reasons why NFC and Beacons matter:
- Improve registration. Speed up the registration and room access/tracking systems.
- Allow attendees to network and share contact details with a tap of their device and allow presenters or sponsors to deliver content to attendees with a tap of devices.
- Generate Leads. Give exhibitors and sponsors one tap access to leads.
- Tracking and feedback opportunities. Beacons can track attendees and provide heat maps to show what is and isn’t working.
- By placing tags (stickers) in key areas you can encourage attendees to provide feedback by tapping
- Personalise content! Allow people to dictate what content is relevant to them. Attendees can register what they are interested in and when they walk past the room, the NFC or Beacon can send them a reminder that something interesting is near. When they walk up to a digital sign, it can greet them by name and change to feature all the information that is relevant to them personally.
Let’s move on to something we like to call Streaming 2.0. We have called it 2.0 because we believe that the online world has changed drastically in the last couple years, that a silent revolution is going on. With so many new players and technology options available, it can be hard to know what to choose for what task. These are three we’re really excited about:
Over the last 2 years all of your favourite social platforms have come out with their own forms of streaming so now there are a lot to choose from, a few examples would be Periscope, Twitch, Facebook Live, Youtube, Instagram, and Snapchat.
These services bring your live stream to be to a much wider audience. Periscope, for instance, allows you to go live “on the go” anytime and is great for sharing event news or updates or showing live product demos. Facebook & Youtube have an extensive user base which is excellent for exposure. Apps like Instagram and Snapchat is a mobile messaging application used to share photos, videos, text, and drawings. It has become hugely popular in a very short space of time, especially with young people. The temporary aspect of the posts are what makes Snapchat unique among social networks, and what makes it a network perfect for event marketing. Snapchat is ideally suited to driving FOMO that can spur buzz at your event.
The important thing to consider is your audience as some of these services right now are very demographic specific and when streaming on social platforms, you need to watch out for any copyright issues.
360 degree webcasting can be a spectacular way to give your remote audience a front and centre experience at your event. Send your remote audience a 360 youtube link and they can look around in every direction while your event is streaming live.
Now throw a VR headset into the mix and you can truly transport your remote audience into your live event. When watching a webcast on a computer screen it’s hard to keep people engaged, with 360 streaming and virtual reality your audience can be fully immersed in the live webcast as if they were really there in person.
Virtual events from services like AltspaceVR allow a taste of new live event experiences to come that will allow users to connect via virtual reality in virtual environments. Because it is an entirely virtual experience you can make your event “instanced” so that no matter how many audience members there are, the presenter and event space is duplicated as many times as required to ensure each attendee isn’t sifting through a crowd and has an intimate experience.
Yes, streaming can be daunting. But, like all the other solutions the key is understanding who your demographic is, what the outcomes are that the attendees and event stakeholders are looking for, and then tailoring the solution around that.