10 Ideas To Incorporate Interactive Technologies Into Your Event

Technology
01.03.2018 10:25

It seems that all modern events are striving to use cool technology and be more interactive. In reality, though, many events are just churning out the same old ideas, rather than offering anything innovative.

The technology is out there, but budget can often be a limiting factor to trying something new. We have put together a round up of tech well suited for events and share the lowdown on how you could be using it, important considerations, and how much you can expect to pay to rent it for your event. We also outline the pros and cons of off-the-shelf and custom content and give some tips on getting the most from interactive technology.

Here are 10 exciting technologies to enhance your event



1 Mirror signage What is it? 
Mirror signage is a mirror and signage hybrid display combined. It can give a reflection of the user and also share additional digital information or advertising.

How Can Event Planners Use It?
Mirror signage can be used to share scheduled information or marketing messages for your event or sponsors in an unusual way and make the most of every square inch of real estate. It can be programmed to show advertising which then stops when the proximity sensor determines that someone is nearby and needs to use the mirror, before automatically starting again after a period of inactivity. Alternatively, the advertising can show on part of the screen even as the mirror is being used.

A custom programmed “magic mirror” can be particularly effective for fashion exhibitors looking to impress and transform the ‘trying on’ experience. It enables a reflection as well as transmitting computer images. This can show what the item would look like on the individual without them actually having to get undressed. The touchscreen enables the user to flip through clothing combinations, get stylist recommendations, request assistance from staff or make a purchase. It is an opportunity for exhibitors to increase the likelihood of more sales without increasing staff numbers and the footprint required for extra fitting room space on the show floor.

At an event, displays could allow guests to access concierge-style services, offering things such as the next sessions starting nearby, restaurant recommendations, or a list of exhibitors matching their area of interest. The technology could read RFID tags and work in conjunction with an attendee’s smartphone for an integrated event experience. Tracking cameras could also observe behavior and traffic to help event planners optimize their floor plan for future events.

What Event Planners Need To Know:
Often no computer is required and the content is plug and play.
Portrait and horizontal orientations are available in a variety of screen sizes.
Explore the options to give greater value to your attendees through personalized shopping and information options.
Consider the use of tracking cameras to monitor movement and flow at your event.

How Much Does It Cost?
Renting mirror signage can start from around $425+ per day, depending on the spec required.
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2. Touch Screen Kiosks What Is It?
From display stands for tablet devices, through to standalone, large 55”, touch screen displays, kiosks can offer interaction and self-service functionality at events.

How Can Event Planners Use It?
Touch screen kiosks can allow event organizers to serve up information to attendees and enable the visitor to select what details they want to explore. For instance, they could bring up the floor plan and be given precise instructions to navigate from their location to a specific area of the event.

Self-service kiosks can be a great choice for the registration area and can be a quick way for attendees to check themselves in and gain entry to the event. Attendees can scan their own ticket or look up their own name to trigger their badge being printed. You could even use facial recognition technology at the kiosks to identify and check people in quickly. Floor standing and tablet mounts are available which take into account security, power and custom branding options, should you want them.

Within the event, touch screens can also be used to show eposters in a modern take on abstract posters submissions. They can provide a great way to share research and add rich formatting options and elements such as video and photographs. There are also greater tracking options to find out the information attendees were particularly interested in.

Tips for Event Planners:
Think about the information that your attendees will be looking for. This is likely to be the standard questions your event team will be asked. Offer quick options to navigate to the most important information via your touchscreens.
Make self-service kiosks simple to use with big buttons and easy instructions to walk even the most tech-phobic attendee through the process. Staff will still need to oversee the area but even if a small number of attendees use the fast-track lane it should reduce the amount of staff needed overall.
If posters are an important part of your event, consider offering a high-tech version instead of the traditional printed offering, and coach the abstract authors on how to get the most from their eposter.

How Much Does It Cost?
For a full event period, you can rent tablet (iPad/Android) display stands for approximately $65 (table mounted) or $125 (floor standing).
iPads start from approximately $50 to $150 depending on the model and spec required. Android tablets start from $50 per device.
Eposters and large touch screens can cost $1,150 and upwards.
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3. Virtual Reality (VR) Headsets What Are They?
Virtual reality is a computer-generated simulation of a 3D environment that can be interacted with by an individual, via a headset, in a seemingly real or physical way.

How Can Event Planners Use Them?
Virtual reality headsets can transport attendees to another world and is guaranteed to intrigue and excite attendees. It offers an immersive and believable experience. Off-the-shelf content is available, such as walking with dinosaurs, flying or a car race track. Bespoke, branded VR content can be developed for a company too.  

VR headsets have been used in a conference plenary session, allowing delegates to experience another virtual world all at the same time, in an individual but shared experience. It is a big draw for sponsors and exhibitors wanting to attract attention and get people talking. It could bring to life a product or scenario that couldn’t be transported to the event, for instance, a large product such as a plane or a peek inside the company office. Users could rotate, move, explore and walk around the product with a bird’s eye view or, actually walk through the space as if they are in it.

Instructions for Event Planners Using The Product for the First Time”
Make sure that you have a clear area with no obstructions and plenty of space.
VR technology can draw quite a crowd so consider a queue management system and time limit for each user.
Add a screen so others can experience a flavor of what the individual is experiencing.
Integrate live scoring for that competitive edge.

How Much Does It Cost?
VR kits, including headsets, can start from $125 upwards, for a full event rental.

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4. Gaming Consoles What Are They?
Video consoles are computers or devices that can be used for interactive gameplay between one or more players.

How Can Event Planners Use Them?
Gaming consoles can be used for competitions and team building activities as a fun participation element to a larger event. It can be a great bonding activity and get the adrenaline pumping. A leaderboard can be set up and managed throughout the whole event and a crowd will often gather to cheer on the competitors. It doesn’t have to be a stationary activity either, motion sensors, mats and boards mean that games to get the heart racing can be a welcome change of pace from conference information sessions. Check out the Nintendo Switch and Sony PlayStation Move Motion Controller for new technology options.

What Event Planners Should Know
Think about the maximum number of players that can get involved at any one time and the experience of those waiting to have a turn.
Choose a simple game that everyone can have a go at, whatever their skill level.
Offer prizes for the highest scores. And perhaps give condolence prizes for the lowest scores too!

How Much Does It Cost?
Gaming consoles start from $150 each to rent for an event.
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5. Video Walls What Are They?
A video wall is a series of screens tiled together and seamlessly integrated to create a larger display area.

How Can Event Planners Use Them?
Video walls can create the wow factor in a variety of ways. They can create an immersive presentation experience in the main conference room, add the wow factor to a venue or exhibition stand, be used in a meeting room to connect participants in different locations for a virtual meeting, or be used to live stream content.
There are many creative ways to display content. A live camera feed can be shown or scheduled content can be shown to communicate brand or event messaging. When placed in high traffic areas it can ensure that you capture attention and communicate important information to guests.  

Tips for Event Planners:
Video walls don’t have to follow straight lines. Asymmetrical video walls can be artistic and unique. Or think about a curved option to make a bigger impression.
Don’t let beautiful visuals get chopped up with gridlines from thick bezels. If the effect is important to you choose a product with ultra-narrow bezels to give a seamless visual impression.
If you are running a festival or outdoor event there are robust options suitable for outdoor use. Sharing social media content and images can be a great way to entertain the crowd.

How Much Does It Cost?
Video walls start from $750 upwards per panel for an event rental period of up to two weeks.

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6. Touchscreen Table What Is It?
Touchscreen multi-touch tables use a tabletop, touchscreen surface to display images, which can be interacted with and controlled by the user.

How Can Event Planners Use It?
Touchscreen tables are a great way to share event information or record visitor data. They are popular for exhibitors to display product information, answer questions, showcase offers or place orders via a secure payment point. They can even be used to play one or several games at the same time. By using a tabletop format, rather than a wall display, it means that attendees have to get closer to see it, which is the ideal opportunity for sponsors to be on hand if they need further advice.

What Event Planners Need to Know:
Consider the number of touchpoints on the screen. The more touchpoints the more responsive the screen will be – you don’t want any dead spots.
Touchscreen tables are not just for indoor events. Waterproof cases are also available for outdoor usage and anti-glare screens for use in bright sunlight.
Consider the power requirements of the table and ensure that there are no trip hazards caused by power leads.

How Much Does It Cost?
A touchscreen table can be rented for around $2,250.

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7. Tablets What Are They?
Touchscreen operated devices, powered by Android or iOS.

How Can Event Planners Use Them?
Tablets are seen more and more at events and can have a number of uses. It can be handy for an event planner to carry around a tablet to access information rather than a folder of information.
Tablets are handy for event check-in, countdown timer warnings for speakers, lead capture, survey responses, taking payments and virtually anything that can be done using an internet-connected device with a screen. Exhibitors and sponsors can use them on secure display stands or with special handheld cases.

Considerations for Event Planners:
Think about charging requirements. If the tablet is not used with a stand that supplies power the battery life can drain quickly if the screen needs to be constantly on. If so, have spares so that you can swap to a new device as the other one charges.
When renting tablets, ensure that you delete data and/or that the vendor has safe processes to fully wipe off data from the tablets.
You are likely to need WiFi access or 4G phone data – check the specifics on the model you are renting, plus a data plan if you need one.

How Much Does It Cost?
iPads start from approximately $50 to $150 depending on the model and spec required. Android tablets start from $50 per device.

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8. Charging Tables and Stations What Are They?
Charging stations can power up multiple devices at the same time and are often used as a branding and advertising opportunity. Different models are available. Some are secure and mean that devices can be locked away to charge without needing the attendee to stay with the device. Other models require the individual to be present and supervise their device as it charges.
How Can Event Planners Use Them?
Devices are power hungry and attendees can get nervous when their phone, tablet or computer is reaching a critical battery situation. They may be relying on the event app to get the information they need or preserving battery life will mean they will stop tweeting about your event – so it is wise to keep your participants happy and powered up.
Many charging options are a great sponsorship opportunity to add advertising, sales messages and special offers. Branded options can look great as part of the event and some include touch screen information to grab attention as people wait.

Tips for Event Planners:
Think about what type of charging station would fit best with your event? Would a locker type work best or do you want people to stay and supervise their devices and hopefully network and engage with the sponsor or event messaging.
The position of the charging station is important. People need to know it is there and a busy environment with things going on around it is preferable so that attendees waiting with their phones don’t feel that they are isolated and missing out on the wider event.
Make sure charging attachments are available to suit all different phone and device types.

How Much Does It Cost?
Prices start from $650 upwards.
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9. Interactive Whiteboard What Is It?
An interactive whiteboard is a touchscreen computer which can be used to share content and learning. It can be operated via the touchscreen display or via a linked tablet device. It is possible to create digital versions of notes, highlights and annotations.

How Can Event Planners Use It?
In some venues, digital whiteboards are replacing inbuilt projectors and screens and they are popular within training settings. They can display presentations, record notes, share video and be used as an audience response system for polls, quizzes and live Q&A. Items can be dragged, clicked and copied.

Best Practice for Event Planners
OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology can be used to transcribe handwritten notes into typed text.
Discover the freeze display option, so that the publicly displayed image can be paused whilst exploring different content or looking ahead on the tablet device linked to it.
Use it for group collaboration and brainstorming to get all of your attendees engaged and actively contributing to a session.

How Much Does It Cost?
To rent an interactive whiteboard for a period of up to two weeks is likely to cost $4,750 and upwards.

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10 Apple TV What is it?
Apple TV is a device that can take data from one source and stream it to another. For instance, it could mirror an app on a smartphone to a larger screen to make it easier to see, or stream live content, entertainment, video sharing sites and more from one device to another.

How Can Event Planners Use It?
In an event setting, this can be particularly useful for projecting images from a small device, such as from an app, onto a bigger screen so that more people can see how it operates. Exhibitors and sponsors that want to show off their application to a larger crowd will find it useful for product demos in particular. The new Apple TV can be voice operated by Siri too, which is a useful time saver.

How Event Planners Can Use Apple TV
Master Siri voice commands that will be useful in an event environment.
If you have an Apple Watch you can use this to control Apple TV.
You can capture and record the screen if you wish, which will be helpful if you are creating a video overview for a product and want to show what it can do.

How Much Does It Cost?
It costs around $45 to rent Apple TV for an event.

What Event Planners Need To Know About Using Interactive Content
To get the most from interactive content there are is some best practice that event planners must follow:
All content should be tested on the actual physical hardware pre-event
Spare driver machines should be ordered from the equipment rental company
One piece of content should be limited to one or two screens to ensure ease of use

Off-the-shelf Versus Custom Designed Interactive Content
Interactive tech can often come with pre-built content, such as games and social media integration. This is fast and offers a plug and play type solution.
If your budget allows and if the content can be used for more than one event it may be worthwhile having custom interactive content created. This might include interactive touchscreen product demos, branded videos and custom gamification.

3 Essential Tips for Creating Interactive Event Content
! Consult your hardware provider for exact specs on the technology, especially aspect ratio and resolution.
2 Ask the hardware provider to test your content live ahead of the event and send you a video to confirm.
3 Check for font readability on all content as this can often be the biggest issue encountered with interactive event content.

In Conclusion
Interactive technology can be a great addition to your event in terms of engagement, sponsors/exhibitor interactions and wow factor. They can also offer efficiencies and savings in terms of staffing requirements and space. These ten technologies give plenty of scope to incorporate cool tech into your event and prove that there are options available to suit all event budgets.

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