Engaging with Technology at Expo! Expo!

December 5, 2017

The IAEE Expo! Expo! Annual Meeting and Exhibition 2017 drew some great technology features to the show. This year’s event, held Nov. 28–30 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas, offered some very interesting technology engagement options for those in attendance.

Technology as education: At the education session titled Leveraging Digital Insights to Create Brand Experiences, Wilson Tang, vice president at Freeman XP, talked about using technology to create customized brand experiences.

One of the most interesting discussions about how to provide technology engagement focused on the use of voice-activated assistance using an Alexa skill. Using voice-activated technology and the right technology partner can provide a booth or show a very technology-forward engagement piece.

Another technology concept discussed during the session was the use of contextually relevant push messaging, based both on geo-fencing as well as prior interest indicators. The idea Tang discussed here was the use of data in real-time and segmenting push notifications based on that data for a truly customized experience.

Technology as competition: The Tech Start-Up Competitions, sponsored by Visit Austin and the Austin Convention Center, were another interesting use of technology at the show. The competition took place right in the middle of the showfloor. Each tech start-up company had approximately six minutes to present their technology and how it’s uniquely used within their organization and the meetings and events industry to the audience and a panel of five judges, whose backgrounds ranged from technology to business development to capital investment.

In total, 19 start-up companies pitched their organizations and the level of technology expertise was impressive, with focuses including social engagement technology, beacon technology, touchscreen signage and content connection platforms, among others. Many of the tech companies used power points to share their expertise, with one clever start-up performing a rap song to relay their organizational information. The judges then asked questions of the presenter, similar to a Shark Tank format.

Technology as experience: Another huge technology hit that was found outside of registration and the showfloor was a featured virtual reality experience - a2zen - a zen experience from a2z. For those who have an issue with a moving virtual reality experience due to health issues or motion sickness, this VR experience was quite different.

After the participant was asked to sit and the VR headset and headphones were placed on them, A Zen Zone was then seen through the VR goggles, complete with calming spa-like music and a beautiful sunset over a lily pad garden. From there, a 3D sitting figure and infinite dark space were seen, after which instructions were given for a meditation session. The depicted sitting figure was used to demonstrate the movement of energy, from the feet through the legs, into the torso and through the arms, hands and head.

The use of both the narrative and the visual elements showing a “light” moving through the 3D figure helped those unfamiliar with meditation to actually “see” the flow of energy, a visual cue that helped assist in moving the sensation of energy through the participant’s body. In addition, the 3D sitting figure was off to one side, so if one wished to simply focus on the narrative and open their mind into the dark expanse of space one could easily do so. A steady stream of show attendees took advantage of this short meditation zone to sit, relax and simply breathe.

The use of technology through the educational sessions, the competition and the VR experience provided Expo! Expo! attendees a range of technology engagement options. It also demonstrated that one technology experience does not fit all. With next year’s show coming only a couple of weeks before the holidays and end-of-the-year activities, there’s no doubt more unique technology experiences will be seen both on and off the showfloor.

Next year’s IAEE Expo! Expo! will take place Dec. 11–13 in New Orleans.

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