image Official AV at Farnborough International Airshow 2016 image How Agencies Implement Virtual Reality in Brand Campaigns

Smart AV Event Technology Predictions for 2017

event technology predictions

This year has seen the Smart AV team work on some of the most innovational, experimental forms of event technology and audio visual installations to date. From the LED installation for Swiss Air that saw visitors to London’s Spitalfield Market throwing real snowballs at moving targets on screen, to Ribena’s ‘colour cafe‘ using bespoke projection mapping. While our investment in new and exciting forms of audio visual technology has grown (such as our 2.5mm 4K LED) it is how the technology can be used creatively that interests us.  This is why we are proud to work with some of the most progressive minds within the industry who are always interested in how we can further push the boundaries. From creative agencies, to production houses and our interactive content partner Uberact. This is how we deliver new audio visual solutions where the hardware is but a jumping point for what can be achieved.

With this in mind, here are some of the ways we see our creative hardware helping to engineer audio visual experiences over the next 12 months.

1.Shared VR experiences

Virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) have been the event technologies of choice for many agency briefs and pitches this year. VR itself has become much easier to implement with consumer-grade hardware such as the Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear. Of course, VR has been renowned for being an insular experience. The event attendee on stand places on a headset and is transported to a new world. For the visitor, this is undoubtedly something to write home about. However, what about the rest of the people on your booth or those around the event? VR experiences create a buzz by nature but wouldn’t they be better if they could be shared?

Something we see arriving for 2017 events is shared virtual experiences. Where multiple event attendees can see the experience and witness firsthand the same point of view as the player. This creates more than just a novelty experience, it creates a moment of connection where the visitor is in charge of the experience. For event visitors, seeing the brand perspective from the point of view of a peer or a colleague is much more effective and memorable.

As we created for our friends at Makers for Parkex 2016 below, the technology of choice for this type of shared experience is high-resolution LED. A low pixel pitch is essential – without it visitors can’t crowd around the screen. The high-resolution of a 2.5mm or 2.8mm LED screen ensures that the picture retains intense clarity even when visitors are a metre or two away from the screen.

virtual reality shared experience using LED

2. Creative installations using event technology

Static graphics look great and are easy to install but for 2017 events, we see many agencies and brands pushing past this to create installations that are technology led. What do we mean by this? Firstly, we see a higher uptake of some of our creative forms of LED such as the 3.9mm curve and 3.9mm smart-edge LED, both of which, can be created in any formation you desire. Whether this is a sphere, a wrapped cylinder, a cube or as a design integrating floor-to-ceiling LED.

While this creative technology is new and exciting, it is the designs into which it will be absorbed which will determine just how far the event technology boundaries can go. As we have seen in 2016, designs that utilise these products to create turning spheres that are flown from the ceiling, flipped kaleidoscopes or complete cubes, are the ones that will stand out from the competition.

Floor to ceiling LED technology

A floor-to-ceiling LED installation for Rolls Royce

3. Overlaid projection or experiences on real-world objects

As well as virtual reality we also expect to see more creative briefs which merge the physical with the virtual. One example of this is in the recent Ribena Colour Cafe experience we worked on, where cafe visitors were invited to colour-in drawing blocks. Once coloured, these blocks were added to a wall where custom-developed projection mapping was overlaid to bring the drawing to life. For such a simple concept (colouring-in plus projection) the effect was outstanding.

Another method is to overlay graphics onto real-world objects, such as a wall that shows up with lighting as visitors walk past. Using event technology such as LED sensors, creatives can envision a room that literally comes to life when visitors enter. This also opens the door to personalised event experiences, where physical objects can link to digital or virtual experiences. For example, a visitor places a landmark of London onto a table and from the model of the landmark, specific information relating to its history appears. The technology behind this is relatively simple and is something we often work with, using our Multitaction tables and the development of custom-coded objects. Again, it is the creative ideas this technology supports that brings it to life to tell the brand story.

Sensor activated table technology

4. Biometrics recognition event technology

Biometric sensors read signs from human actions (voice, touch, facial movements) and turn them into electrical signals. We see this as big business for the future of events where visitors are looking for new experiences and events that can ‘read them’ and their needs more effectively. We already see biometric sensors used in wearables that measure heart rate and calories. For events, this could be used in conjunction with exciting experiences or virtual simulations to measure visitor reactions. Did they like it or dislike it? Feel bored or excited? Biometrics are able to measure and relay all of this information. We found this post useful for exploring its applications further.

5. Smart event spaces

The Internet of Things and connected spaces, from homes, to offices, to retail stores, have become more and more accessible over the years. So how will this affect temporary events or experiential installations? We see smart event spaces as key for 2017, where brands are demanding more than ever that their event be measurable and provide a return on interest. Smart event spaces work to benefit both the brand and the visitor. Firstly, they react and change to the visitor’s needs. Smart event spaces will allow stand personnel to change the temperature, lighting, sound and more from an app on their smartphone.

In terms of visitors, smart event spaces will allow them to choose how they navigate; from what they see to where they go to learn more. Smart event spaces can also save and retain information about the visitor. From the way they walked, to where they dwelled the longest and what they chose to see more of.

Pair this with facial recognition technology and you begin looking towards events which are reactive, living organisms that adapt to the visitors inside them.

6. Interactive – but bigger

One emerging trend that has already started to gather pace is touch technology – but on an epic scale. We have, and continue, to work on a number of projects that demand touch functionality on a much larger scale than has ever been previously requested. Visitors expect the screens around them to be interactive. This stems from our everyday use of mobile and tablets and how we interact with the screens in everything from our car to the stores we visit.

Historically it was only possible to create touch experiences on the screens that enabled it. A few years ago it was the custom development of a multitouch overlay added to a 103″ screen that allowed us to enable one of the largest touch installations for a future fashion event at Westfield London.

Now, there is no limit on the size of an interactive event experience due to the ability to be able to add touch sensors and motion detection to LED walls.

LED walls, which can be created in any formation due to their modular design, can now be paired with Hummingbird sensor products to create large-scale touch displays.

event technology predictions

Secondly, touch was previously held back by low resolution LED walls. With a low resolution screen, as soon as the visitor steps in to touch the screen, the image becomes indiscernible. With 2.5mm and 2.8mm LED products, the pixel pitch allows for close-up interaction and activation.

Over to you.

We have all of the technology and audio visual hardware available, waiting in anticipation to make your next event great. Our team is able to work in partnership with you, to engineer a creative vision and make it a reality. Using the latest forms of event technology and an expert team who is ready and waiting to support them. To discuss what technology you could employ and how you could use it within your 2017 events, book a meeting with us today.

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