It’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it – five of the best uses of technology for MICE

In the wake of CES, our recent trip to ISE and looking ahead to IMEX in Frankfurt in May, technology has been very much on our minds. We’re always keen to see how the latest innovations can help make our work more compelling: but we firmly believe that above all, any new technology should aim to enhance interactions between humans at events and conferences, rather than replace them. After all, building relationships is the number one reason delegates attend events.

So often it comes down not to what the technology is, but how it’s used – so here are some examples of the latest tech being used to great advantage:

  • Facial recognition technology – one of the most tedious parts of attending events is getting badges and other registration aspects sorted out at the beginning. Zenus Biometrics uses uploaded pictures from delegates and facial recognition software to register delegates automatically as they approach the event entrance, and has just piloted a livestreamed version of it at HRTechWorld in Amsterdam.We could see this becoming integral to individual stands in the future, giving staff a jump start on getting positive conversations started with visitors.

  • Chatbots – Chatbots have the potential to replace event apps with much more natural ways for delegates to access essential information: simply texting enquiries to a dedicated chatbot provides far fewer barriers to entry than downloading a dedicated app. More efficient dissemination of practical info means that event staff can spend more time doing what humans do best: dealing with more complex queries to ensure that delegates are getting the most out of their event. You can chat to Sciensio’s Concierge Event Bot on their website - it’s very impressive.

  • Visual displays – At CES 2018 much of the standout tech was focused on increasingly flexible displays. LG demonstrated a rollable TV that not only can be adjusted to any size, but looks like it would be much easier to transport in its box than a standard screen. But most impactful was their OLED Canyon, a 28 metre long walkthrough of 246 curved LG OLED displays, showing just how versatile displays have become. For another great example of these stunning curves in action, take a look at the digital signage in action at the N Seoul Tower.

  • Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality – it’s taken a while for AR and VR to move to beyond a fun gimmick to a really useful tool in the event manager’s arsenal. We were struck by DB Pixelhouse’s virtual hangar as particularly useful for the aerospace industry, where there are issues of logistics and access involved in giving visitors a true picture of large items such as planes.

While we love all these examples, we don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface of the potential of these technologies as yet. This fully immersive VR experience in London, for example, gives just a glimpse of things to come, so we’re going to be keeping a close eye on these technologies – and those coming over the horizon – and ways in which they can enrich and enhance the human interactions that make events and exhibitions so compelling.

OpinionTom Exon