Tech Seeds Of Revolution In Meetings And Events

handy little iPhone 

The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed. ~ William Gibson. 

From The Information Age To The Participatory Culture

The explosion of digital media and the emergence of the participatory culture have amplified and transformed communication in ways we are only beginning to discover. Today, creating and sharing information is the norm.

Generation F, the Facebook Generation as Gary Hamel calls it, is driving new eras of experience and experimentation. Generation F, not defined by age, is expecting similar experiences in today’s meetings and events. 

Five Revolutionary Seeds

Here are five developments that may revolutionize how meetings are run in the future.

1. Multitouch Walls and Tablets

The movie Minority Report illustrated multitouch technology best. Pinching, gesturing and touching items on a screen moves and resizes them. iPhones, Androids and tablets have brought this technology to everyday life.

TED2008: The BigViz Animation from Tom Wujec on Vimeo.

CNN’s Magic Wall, the 2008 TED Conference’s Big Viz created by Autodesk and Perceptive Pixel, and MarketArt’s You Are Here Floorplan for wayfinding and interactive touch screens are just a few examples. The SMART Board interactive whiteboard connects to a computer (laptop, desktop, tablet) and a projector. Facilitators can display information, interact with it, write or draw with digital ink, save information and share it, all with a touch of the whiteboard.

2. Video: The Language Of The Internet

Using and creating video is as common to digital natives as using land lines are to boomers. Skype, Oovoo, iPhone FaceTime, Flip cameras, smartphones with point and shoot video, Livestream, Qik and Ustream have made video commonplace.

  • By the end of 2010, 40% of global internet traffic was video consumption.
  • The sum of all forms of video (TV, video on demand, Internet and peer-to-peer file sharing) will be 91% of internet traffic by 2014.
  • Nearly 66% of mobile traffic will be video consumption by 2014. (Cisco Visual Networking Index 2009-2014)

From 2005-2007, PPAI held RAC National Education Days with more than 20 satellite groups across the nation via web streaming. In 2010, EventCamp live streamed its unconference via a stationary camera and smart card. Later in 2010, EventCamp Twin Cities live streamed its event and held pods in three remote locations. EventCamp 2011 Chicago Skyped a speaker and remote attendees to small groups, all while live streaming the experience. More conference organizers are using Skype to connect remote presenters and panelists as well.

More event professionals need to start embracing video in all its aspects from marketing to live streaming to remote attendee engagement.

3. GUI (Graphic User Interface) & Object Oriented Design Tools

In early 1970, Stanford researcher Fred Lakin visually described how graphics would be important to computing. Bits and bytes (chips) can be represented by regular numbers (code). Numbers are a kind of letter and word (ASCII) which are a subset of graphics (GUI). While coding is still mostly used today, we have seen a rise of software with drag and drop interface.

Architectural design is now using building informational modeling (BIM). BIM looks like 3D design except that all features (windows, doors, etc.) modeled contain metadata about costs, insulation, energy use, materials, strength, etc. When constructed properly, building models produce estimates of costs, energy efficiency, sustainability and more. The visual model is the calculator and the interface is for design.

In the future, expect to see 3D meeting venue software that will include metadata for objects like rooms, room layouts, stages, equipment, etc. Design a room layout and immediately get the data for costs, sustainability and audience engagement levels. Drag and drop designs will help conference organizers see the effectiveness of their logistics in addition to its efficiency.

4. Collaboration Technology Tools

We’ve seen the rise of audience chat, polling, questions and digital events. More meetings will begin to integrate tech tools like tablets that allow for screen sharing, whiteboarding and remote scribing, design and presentation annotation.

Expect to see the rise of collaborative visual wiki environments where face-to-face and remote audiences can enter information simultaneously in real time. Crowdsourcing and idea harvesting will continue to increase.

5. 3D & Virtual Environments

While many 3D and virtual environments have a steep learning curve, some corporations have discovered that their clients are comfortable with these technical aspects.

In the future, more presenters will realize the opportunities of using 3D or virtual environments like SecondLife projected on a screen during a face-to-face meeting. Virtual environments allow presenters flexibility to show what is possible with simulations and experiments without the risks or mess.

High Touch Still Reigns

No matter how flashy technology gets, we still learn and connect with our senses and brains.

Traditionally, meetings and events have overemphasized logistics, details and the rational at the expense of attendees’ experience.

Today we need to balance the logistics with tech integration of visuals, imagery, metaphors and design to enhance the senses and attract the brain.

What are some of the biggest hurdles keeping meeting organizers from creating revolutionized meetings and events? What are some of the unique technology tools you’ve experienced that increase the value of a face-to-face experience?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
  1. It’s funny you mention “Minority Report” straight off the bat because the guy who consulted with the film went on to actually finish work on the project. (It had been a MIT project for decades before the making of the film) That gesture-controlled interface is now a fully functional technology that you’ll start to see at trade shows and theatrical presentations. They’ve also got a product that really revolutionizes video conferences — I’m going to be interviewing one of their inside guys, so I’ll let you know when that story posts.

  2. It is interesting to see this intersection point where many of the groups we work with do not understand how this technology positively impacts learning and how they see many of what are the LPs of the F-Y generation as belonging to this generation when they are not. They are relatively standard tools that facilitate interaction and the more accessible they become, the more we need to understand their integration with the high touch and f2f possibilities. Great article. Thanks! Tahira

    1. Jeff Hurt says:

      Wow, I look forward to seeing that article and the Multitouch Wall at upcoming conferences and tradeshows. These are exciting times indeed. Thanks for commenting.

      I like what you said, “…How this technology postiviely impacts learning…that facilitate interaction…” Good stuff.

      Your comments are always appreciated. Thanks for taking the time to read and share!!

  3. John Chen says:

    We used Spotme at the MPI Cascadia 2011 with a Welcome to the Future theme and it blew people away! Look for a video debrief within the next week, it was an amazing 248 person conference!!!

    1. Jeff Hurt says:

      Spotme is a great example of event technology that can help with engagement and interaction. Poken is another one that works well too. Thanks for sharing, commenting and reading.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *