Some are old but under-utilized. Others are available now, but not necessarily used in the event space. Still others coming in the not-to-distant future and have some amazing potential for creating experiences that drive engagement with our audiences.
Marketers are increasingly challenged by breaking through the clutter to create brand experiences which solicit appropriate emotional and rational responses from our audiences in order to accomplish our business objectives. Tried and true techniques for engaging our audiences, including interaction and storytelling to drive relationships are still relevant. Engagement and authenticity continue to be key components of a well-engineered brand communications strategy.
Human communication is evolving. What attracts us and motivates us is constantly changing. The way we interact with each other, our communities and the companies we do business with is increasingly complex. Technology is everywhere and can become an insurmountable distraction or a useful tool to help us in driving indelible experiences which last well beyond a single moment in time and spark long-term relationships.
Here are six game-changing technologies that will help experiences and events make more of an impact on audiences and brands alike.
Augmented reality combines visual, three dimensional environments with virtual information creating a hybrid view of the real world and relevant data. Several companies are running to create augmented reality applications for smartphones that will add information to maps, landmarks, people and the like. The most compelling vision of augmented reality however is not from a mobile device, but a wearable computer from MIT. Imagine interpreting attendee, product, brand, speaker, subject matter information instantaneously through an personal projection onto any surface. Other versions could involve audio cues delivered through headphones, or heads-up displays built into eyeglasses. Very cool stuff. Pretty soon, we won’t need to remember anything. First the calculator took away our ability to do simple math, then along came the GPS so we can’t find our way out of the driveway, and now this…
This system uses a camera and facial recognition software to determine the gender, ethnicity and emotional reaction of audiences to advertisements shown on an interactive screen. Using this data, the system can serve up different advertisements based on the audience standing in front of the monitor. Samsung is just scratching the surface here. Imagine using this technology for product demonstrations at a tradeshow, showcasing the most relevant products, features or benefits based on audience demographics or physical reactions. Imagine an entire experience being customized to a single member of your audience based on the same technology. What about speaking sessions? Or interactive virtual events where participants have their webcams on, giving the virtual event producer the opportunity to customize content based on the same information to each screen. Amazing stuff.
As an experiential or event marketer, if you haven’t heard of Kaon Interactive or their V-OSK solutions you may be missing out on some pretty amazing technology. Kaon creates high definition, three-dimensional product models and system demonstrations to help sales and marketing teams illustrate product features and benefits. The V-OSK solution is basically an interactive touch screen that allows users to interact with a virtual product, process or solution. Demonstrations can be self-guided or hosted by a staffer. Key features and benefits can be programmed into each layer of the high-definition, three-dimensional image which can be taken apart or otherwise manipulated to obtain just the right view. This is ideal for use in corporate lobbies, museums, executive briefing centers and tradeshows. I once heard someone define drayage as the best way to move freight the shortest possible distance, at the slowest possible pace for the highest possible cost. A Kaon solution virtually eliminates the need to ship or store products both large and small to events. A game-changer for companies who sell anything from consumer appliances to servers to manufacturing equipment, food processing machinery, medical equipment, or anything else that drives up the cost of floorspace, shipping and drayage. I can see this solution saving some companies millions. Their V-OSK presenter is a great tool for in-depth, interactive presentations for both simple and complex products alike. This can be used for speaking opportunities. Their solution is transferable to the web and e-literature, so once the models are built the ROI on multi-channel distribution is huge. Finally, everything a user does while using a V-OSK is tracked and measurable, helping you to design and develop the most effective demonstrations.
What?! Toy blocks for events?! Yep. These are interactive blocks or cookie-sized computers with motion sensing, neighbor detection, graphical display and wireless communication that can be programmed with calculators, dictionaries, music, etc. Kid’s play, right? Well, partially. I can see Siftables being programmed with more complex data. For example, molecular, atomic, genetic, physics, chemistry, pharmaceutical, biological, ecological, geological, astronomical, electronic, or business-process data. Now we have something very interesting for business and events as a result. Imagine using these interactive blocks as a demonstration or learning tool to tell a story to attendees about what happens when different elements of a (gene, pharmacutical drug, business process, etc.) are moved around or reordered. Add a projector and you can address a mass audience in a very compelling and entertaining fashion. Attendees could each carry around their own siftables and engage in collaborative ideation or problem solving. The possibilities are endless. I am watching these guys closely.
Sure, we’ve all heard of using RFID to track whether or not attendees are sitting in our breakout sessions, but the power of RFID is so much more than that. AllianceTech’s ‘Intelligent’ series of products allows brands to understand attendance, manage leads, create surveys, understand booth and demonstration visits and durations, drive attendee networking and even tie into signage that can be customized for each attendee. What’s more, is I’ve heard AllianceTech is doing some very interesting things tying onsite behavior to pre and post event activities, including social media monitoring for some clients to give a true 360 view of audience behavior. Now that’s powerful. Real-time data which can be used to customize experiences on the fly, and longer-term analytics to create predictive models to drive real, consistent brand performance. I’m looking forward to when RFID is fully integrated into complete event experiences, well beyond intelligent signage. Imagine customized one-to-one signage, demonstrations, sound, video, lighting, temperature, scent, carpet pile, you name it.
Ambient noise is a huge problem at events. Booth theater, speakers, product demonstrations, magicians, gameshows, even the attendees themselves add to the noise pollution and detract from the experience for everyone in the audience. Imagine sound being delivered exactly to the ears of the specific attendee you were targeting. The person to their left or right would not hear the demonstration, only them. Pretty amazing stuff. I’m waiting for active noise cancellation technology to be more effective and efficient in three-dimensional spaces (beyond the more traditional noise-cancelling headphone). It will be very cool when we can step off the tradeshow aisle carpet into a booth and experience total silence.
These are just six of some of the most interesting technologies with event applications I’ve come across. Of course, there’s virtual reality, photo or video activation, mobile applications and many others as well.
Please share your favorites!