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Technology in the events sector

Technology in the events sector

Our World | On 11, Aug 2011

Technology is growing at a rate that we all can’t even comprehend. We all know this fact and we all try to jump on the treadmill and keep up. From a marketing side some inventions/ trends can help the process of attracting peoples/ companies attention however others simply don’t sit within this sector. Another view is that some technology isn’t practical from a marketing side however can be used from on or for the end product/event.

Within the events sector, we like to feel we are up to date with the latest innovations and gadgets and we try and maximize the end users experience at all times. That’s the main focus, and we constantly have to remind ourselves that.

QR codes for example – tap into every humans thrust for instant access to information. Whether it websites, information sheets or simply a gimmick to hook someone in, it has a purpose.

Launched in Japan, QR codes (Quick Response) codes do just that. Essentially they are a direct line to a certain page on a website/ document. QR codes are quite similar to standard barcodes you see on everyday product packaging but they pack more of a punch. While typical barcodes are one dimensional and are maxed out at 20 numbers, QR codes are 2D and hold thousands of characters of information, thus extending the possibilities.

How they can be used within the event sector, is mainly for exhibitions and conferences to gain access to pieces of data without having to lug around huge brochures. Thinking outside the box, QR codes are also used for event registration and thus speed up the process of searching for a name among thousands. Some airlines already offer the possibility of your boarding pass in an electronic format that allows you to swipe your phone over a scanner to board the flight. So how long before most conferences follow suit? In my opinion these codes are still a novelty used by probably no more than 2% of the potential audience. However today’s audience learns quicker and becomes more familiar with technology at amazing rates so I expect QR codes to be almost standard practice probably within 12 months.  Ten years ago you would collect brochures, 7 years ago CD’s, 5 years ago memory sticks, today it’s scan your badge send an email. Tomorrow I expect I will scan a QR code into my Android and see the brochure immediately appear on my phone and in my inbox. The technology question here is not whether or not QR codes will dominate, or even what will replace QR codes, but what will replace Android phones as that will drive a whole new development of communication methods.

It’s the chicken and the egg: is it the development of the PC, laptop, mobile, android, blackberry, tablet etc that has facilitated the growth of email, websites, messenger, social networking etc or is it the growth of email/twitter/messenger etc that has sparked development of androids?

Personally I believe that it is the development of the hardware technology that creates the opportunity and therefore unless you work in R&D at Apple, RIM or Microsoft you’re always going to be running faster and faster on the treadmill and whilst I might be biased I truly believe that technology will only ever be “a part” of event communication and never replace it. I saw a report from which shows that email open rate have now fallen to just over 11%. That means that almost 90% of email is unopened let alone read or responded to. Standing out from the crowd and delivering your communications message has never been more difficult and face to face event communication has never been more powerful.

Augmented reality is another techy option that is going to play an increasing role in both face to face and direct marketing. It is very space age and very ‘Minority Report”! The idea is straightforward enough; take a real-life scene, and add some sort of explanatory data to it so that you can better understand what’s going on, or who the people in the scene are, or how to get to where you want to go.

This technology we’ve seen used in the automotive and pharmaceutical industries where in seminars and product launches, it allows a model of a car or indeed a human body to be stripped down and rebuilt section by section. On a car launch you may have a virtual model of the car and want to show off the latest brake technology, so you strip back the body work and just talk through the braking system. It gives the audience a visual display that seems real to the touch, a sense that they can slice the car in half and examine every component. The pharma market also use this in a similar way, demonstrating for example the impact of a drug on diseased cells without the need for the “messy bits”.

It always has a positive effect on dealers and sales staff during an event. They get to see how the product will work and function. Production departments may start to see the benefit in using AR to showcase the staging and overall design of a event/ show. As a creative agency or R&D department it will be a potentially even more powerful tool as it will allow you to see a visual model of the proposal rather than a concept board and whilst costs may be prohibitive today, don’t forget that things like plasma screens have fallen by more than 80% in price over 10 years and “face call “ technology now standard on an I phone was Star Wars special effects stuff 5 years ago.

I see the real growth and power in the B2C market. Many of you will be familiar with some very clever car building web sites that already allow you to choose the model, colour and interior options and then see the finished product. Imagine that technology only 10 times more realistic on your mobile in 3D. Then imagine walking down the high street and thinking, I don’t fancy cooking, loading your restaurant App, thinking hmm what do I fancy and looking at the AR menu. Ten seconds an image of a chef appears asking what you would like and giving you the option to play a 3D projected clip of him preparing that dish, probably with some spooky system for recreating all of the aromas as well. Scratch and sniff for your mobile!

Nigel Cooper

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