Like all event professionals, one thing we do a lot at MeetingPlay is attend conferences and then talk about all of the cool stuff we learned. Recently, we attended the EventTech conference in Las Vegas, and while there, we saw and heard some really cool new things. Here, we gathered a few of the most interesting new technologies and trends to share with you!
The internet of things
The Internet of Things (IoT) has been around for a few years, but as the technology evolves, it’s starting to pop up at events in new and interesting ways. We saw a couple of eye-opening new manifestations of IoT. The first was IBM's Watson-powered robot, Pepper. He’s been on show floors for a few years now, giving attendees info about the event, including directions. There’s a lot of news around him being using for customer service, which has a lot of potential for planners.
Perhaps even more interesting is Raspberry Pi, a DIY robot kit you can buy for $100. Raspberry Pi is much more basic than Pepper, but neat and affordable to consider if you want to build a simple robot and test out some simple IoT projects.
Everyone seems to be talking about artificial Intelligence — it’s been on all the trend reports. It was a big trend at CES 2019, and we've covered it extensively, most recently in a webinar with BizBash where we talked about the evolution of AI.
Again, with AI, IBM is doing some interesting things. They hosted a "cognitive cocktail bar" at SXSW that used AI to serve up ideal cocktail. This was a cool (and in our opinion, very practical) use of AI. IBM also has an app that does the same thing, so if you missed SXSW or any of the other events where this mixology took place, you can still experience it for yourself. Google Assistant also launched a similar tool, but it was more robotics and less AI.
At the event, we met a vendor called XLabs which specializes in projection mapping. We’ve traditionally thought of projection mapping as a cool, immersive experience, but also a huge, expensive undertaking. Xlabs showed us that it’s not the same technology as we saw five years ago. They've been incorporating new technology, like facial recognition to provide a more personalized experience. We also discovered that it doesn’t have to be a huge display — projection mapping can be smaller scale and much more accessible than in the past.
Guided Show Floor talks
The organizers at EventTech did a guided (but casual) tour through the show floor by theme. The 20-minute tour was especially cool because they curated the list for us, let the vendor do a short presentation (a minute or two) and had already thought through some interesting questions.
A tour like this is a good networking opportunity as well. You travel through with people interested in the same service or theme, so it’s already like a matchmaking-type scenario with people who share similar interests. CES offers a similar tour, enabling exhibitors to pay to be highlighted (organizers can decide whether they wanted it to be pay to play or not).
There was a lot of discussion about Samsung’s folding phone, a tablet-size device that's foldable so it fits in your pocket. So far, the evolution of the smartphone has been to basically keep getting bigger and bigger, and at this point, it's hard to imagine going back to the original smaller screen sizes. So the idea of having a tablet size but that folds up to fit in your pocket is very cool.
The buzz is that 5G and foldable smartphones are the biggest upcoming mobile trends in 2019. Samsung (and potentially Apple, as well) had been holding the design pretty close to the chest. As of just this week, new details have come out about the Samsung phone, including pricing and timing - these phones are reported to be available in late April, at a price of $1980. Check out Samsung's launch details here.
So there you have it: some of the coolest, most interesting things we came across at EventTech. These aren’t endorsements of any company or technology — we’re just sharing some things we’re excited about, from one planner to another. We’re sure to see a host of cool stuff at the next EventTech event, coming up soon in May 2019 (now called the Experiential Marketing Summit). Will you be there, too? If so, let us know - we would love to meet up!