Like to keep up to date with the latest gadgets and gizmos? Then Event Tech Live, taking place at The Old Truman Brewery, London on 9 November is a must-visit.
To get the low-down on all the exciting new technology on show, we spoke to Adam Parry, Editor of Event Industry News, which organises the exhibition.
Are there any new features at this year’s show?
Event Tech Live is now in its fourth year and the show has grown and expanded. It gets a broad cross-section of people attending from festival organisers, concert and touring organisers, promoters, conference organisers and corporates dealing with internal meetings. We’re expecting around 1,500 attendees this year. As in previous years, we’ll have five stages of content, however, based on feedback, we’ve aligned those stages with a type of event and a theme around event technology. Before it was all mixed in together.
Now we have an ‘Exhibition and Engage Stage’ focused on exhibitions, tradeshows and technologies used to engage attendees, ‘Festival and Future Stage’ aimed at festivals and outdoor events, ‘Brand and Buzz Stage’ aimed at agencies, corporates and brands, ‘Conference and Creativity Stage’ aimed at conference and meeting organisers, and a ‘Launchpad and Start-up Stage’ which is a place where we can talk about emerging technologies within the sector.
What companies will be showcased on the Launchpad and Start-up Stage?
We have a company called NetworkTables that is focused on creating engagement and networking people. It’s a really good piece of technology to network your attendees with, enabling them to book seats next to specific delegates or request meetings with them.
Interactio is a digitised translation service for event organisers that replaces audio streaming hardware. It allows attendees to hear speakers in the language they desire through a mobile app on their phone or tablet.
I’m particularly excited about Zenus Biometrics, a San Francisco-based facial recognition technology company. They’ve built a piece of tech with a registration provider called Ya-Ya Regie, which has been successfully used to identify attendees as they turn up and can check them in.
It gives them their badge without having to scan barcodes or type names in and it’s 99% accurate. It’s been used for time efficiency checking people in. To give you an idea, at the Adobe Summit this year 5,000 attendees came through check-in in two hours.
Outside of events, facial recognition has been used by companies like Amazon to enable shoppers to pick up items and walk out of the store without having to worry about physically paying for it. The implications for the event industry include delegates not having to register for events but to simply turn up and be recognised based on previous attendance.
Sounds interesting, can you use facial recognition for personalisation at events?
Yes, you will be able to. You can do things like have camera technology at the main entrance to send welcome messages as soon as you arrive. It could direct people to a different location based on whether they’re a VIP, hosted buyer, speaker, production or crew.
If attendees have built a profile and booked meetings and selected sessions they want to attend, they could use digital information points at the show which would recognise them as they walked up and show them their personalised information. It’s all about time efficiency. Dwell time at events is going down because we’re just busier people. You don’t really want to be spending your time – even as much as I hate to say it – in an event app; you just want that information presented to you.
Do you have any interesting new event exhibitors this year?
They’re all so different, but there is a company called iVent which is a technology provider for hosting virtual events. It’s a third life environment that gives you the ability to engage and it’s been used very well in education events where they’re trying to attract students from abroad. The logistics of that is difficult without a piece of technology like this.
Another company taking a slightly different approach to that is ABBIT, they’re doing what’s called Multi-Hub Meetings. It’s like video conferencing on steroids. The technology is built and delivered specifically for events, so it’s a purpose-built alternative to something like GoToWebinar.
Vivid Fish specialises in inbound marketing for the events industry. With GDPR coming into play next year, organisers are going to have to be extremely smart about how they market and re-market their attendees. Vivid Fish is leveraging technology in the bigger technology sphere for the benefit of event organisers to make sure they don’t get their hands slapped going forward.
We have a company called G-SMATT coming in. Have you ever watched Blade Runner? Remember the scene where they’re flying through L.A. and the buildings are giant advertising screens? Well, they’ve got that technology. It allows you to semi-transparently put images onto panels of glass and these panels can be configured into existing temporary structures. For brands, it offers an interesting way to engage attendees at their launches and at festivals. G-SMATT is building us a tunnel between two areas of our event so people will be able to see graphics from the outside and then when they walk through the tunnel they’ll be inside the graphics.
I understand you will be allowing two venues to exhibit for the first time this year?
We’ve never really allowed anyone who’s not a direct technology supplier to exhibit before, but we’re seeing a trend of venues investing heavily in in-house technology and software. So if, for example, you want a Catchbox, or streaming tech or Q&A software it’s already there. That’s giving a massive benefit on two sides; one is the AV team for that venue understands the technology and knows how to run it. That then has a cost implication on the person hiring the venue because they don’t have to hire it separately and have all this support on site at no additional cost. Two, from a logistics and planning point of view for an organiser, they’re then able to just rock up to the venue and use all this technology in-situ without having to source it.
We’ve allowed, in our opinion, two of the best venues in London, that are at the forefront of technology to exhibit this year. One is The IET (Institution of Engineering and Technology), and the other is 1 Wimpole Street, which was the winner of the ‘Most Tech Friendly Venue’ category in the Event Technology Awards last year. It’s important we show our audience that technology doesn’t have to be difficult; you can just turn up and have it all in place.
Wi-Fi is an on-going issue for event organisers. Will there be any innovations on show?
We have four event specialist Wi-Fi companies at the show; Spindlewood, Noba, Pylon One and Forge Special Projects. We’re seeing a trend where organisers are not relying on the venue Wi-Fi but are bringing in their own requirements. I believe in the future, while you’ll be able to get venue Wi-Fi as an attendee in places like Olympia, the cost of those guys trying to keep up with the advancement in requirements for bigger shows will become prohibitive.
We’re using three times as much data individually every year, so if you’re putting the infrastructure in a venue, it probably won’t even last two or three years. Consequently, I believe event Wi-Fi will become very much an outsourced product.
Do you have anything in the field of virtual reality or augmented reality?
We’ve got dedicated education sessions on how VR and AR are impacting events. VR is an interesting one from an accessibility point of view, with people less able to attend events, especially festivals and things like that. You can even give people experiences they wouldn’t be able to have even if they did attend, like being on stage next to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
We’ve got a company called Quantum Digital who is a VR and AR supplier to the industry – they’ll be exhibiting. We’ve also got a very good speaker called Sanj Surati with a company called Tiger Heart. He worked on the original project to bring the hologram of Tupac to Coachella Festival a few years ago, so we’ve got some content on that.
AR is a really interesting one for the events space. It’s providing information to attendees on devices they already own. With the iPhone now really pushing AR, the application of what we can do becomes much more tangible because of the adoption rate. We just have to now put the technology in place at the show to deliver layered information. As an example, you might be able to walk up to a stage, put your device up and it shows you who’s speaking, what the content is and what’s up next. We’ll be looking at those possibilities as well as what creative companies like Noonah are doing; creating augmented brand opportunity through things like selfie mirrors.
Not only is technology making events easier to organise and manage, it’s also making them increasingly more engaging for attendees. Don’t miss your chance to learn all about the latest innovations at Event Tech Live. It’s free to attend, just click here to register.