How Technology is Transforming the Conference Experience

December 7, 2017

5:00 pm

We all associate the Internet of Things with the things in our houses. But its effects go far beyond the confines of the home. While AI home assistants and smart security systems are transforming home life, this smart technology is having just as big an effect on the world of events – and we don’t just mean tech conferences like SXSW.

Planners and organizers are always innovating, making use of the latest technology to keep their events cutting edge. This has driven many to turn their events into immersive experiences, making use of 3D animation and VR.

In 2018, IoT technology will join these developments by making its way into countless events. Here are some of the key developments that have already begun.

Facial Recognition Is Transforming Invitations

The infamous malfunction at the iPhone X launch earlier this year drew attention to just how widely facial recognition is being used today. Everything from Windows 10 computers to smart front door locks use facial recognition as a primary security measure. Events are following suit. The technology is becoming so commonplace that some churches have even started using it to track who comes to their services.

Facial recognition software kicks into gear the moment event attendees sign up or purchase tickets. At this point, they are asked to provide a photograph. These images are then uploaded into a vast database, putting a face to every guest’s name.

Upon arrival, smart cameras linked up to this database will scan these attendees’ faces and match them to their photographs. This makes resales much more difficult for ticket touts, and ensures no unwanted intruders slip into the event undetected.

Intelligent Lighting Is Illuminating Venues With Precision

Intelligent lighting at events works much like smart lighting in the home. Apps like Philips Hue, Hive Active Light and Belkin WeMo allow homeowners to control their home lighting with an app, changing lighting levels and colors at will, and setting a timer to program the lights throughout the day.

It’s easy to see how this technology could help event planners, and in many cases, it already does. Conference and party planning platform Eventbrite says an intelligent lighting schedule can be used “to signpost attendees through speaker times, awards, comfort breaks and any other key sections that need,” literally, “highlighting.”

These schedules are set using computer programs which are essentially scaled-up versions of the mobile apps used in smart homes. Lighting technicians will design a schedule for an event, taking into account its timetable, expected attendance and various areas of focus. If all eyes should be on the stage, lights in the rest of the room can be dimmed. If all attendees will be in the lobby, that’s where it’ll be brightest. With the right programming, the flow of an event can be greatly enhanced. Money and energy can be saved too as lighting can be turned off in empty areas.

RFID Wearables The Future of Tech Events?

Intelligent Catering Is Removing Waste

In early 2017 a smart fridge that lets users order groceries was “finally” released. The fridge links up with Amazon Echo to track how much of each product is left, and prompts homeowners to reorder more when needed. A version of this technology to be used at events has already been patented, and is likely to see a major rollout in 2018.

Food waste is a sad consequence of the industry. But this technology could pose a solution. Taking cues from the smart fridges mentioned above, and smart retail stores such as Amazon Go, this technology can detect whether or not food has been eaten, and therefore if more needs to be cooked. Technology like this will use smart trays or even smart plates to keep track of food consumption, and send messages directly to those running the event when more is needed.

IoT technology is fast becoming a staple of home life. In 2018, it will be just as prevalent at events.

Read more about technology trends at events on TechCo

 

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Simon Davies is a London based freelance writer with an interest in startup culture, issues and solutions.

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