How Robots Are Speaking at Events and 5 Other Tech Stories Planners Should Read

In this month’s round-up of top event tech news, we take a glimpse into what events may look like in the future with a story of two robots playing the part of event speakers at a tech event in Hong Kong.  We also look at some of the latest tech innovations in our industry including audio-based ticketing machines and the world’s first self-service online exhibition platform.  And finally, we bring you Event Tech Lab’s new list of engagement tools for events, as well as a colourful infographic that shows you the best times to post stuff on social media.

Have a look at this month’s round-up of top tech stories that you don’t want to miss:

TechCrunch: World First for Two Robots Talking on Stage

We’re seeing more and more how Artificial Intelligence (AI) can bring some incredible new possibilities for the events industry, even though there’s still a lot of uncertainty about how viable the technology really is.  But doubts aside, this month saw a world-first, when two robots went on stage at a tech event to ‘debate’ the future of humanity with each other.  As the article suggests, the conversation (which was partially scripted), wasn’t as slick as the human-to-human panels at the show, but it was certainly a sight to behold for the packed audience. Topics ranged from an early joke about taking over the world with a drone army, to ethics in robots and humans, robot job potential and whether it is better to be rich or famous. There was even singing.

Though still in its early days, it’s not hard to imagine how this kind of application of AI can become a more common sight in events of the future.  Just this month, the BBC reported how researchers at the University of Washington used AI to create phony speeches from a synthetic version of former US president, Barak Obama. Using just 14 hours of footage to produce their model, they were able to match any audio to the synthetic Obama or put the words of an impersonator into his mouth.  Though the purpose of the research was to help people identify fake news, the world it opens up in terms of what we can do with event content and speakers is quite mind-boggling.

BBC News: Audio-based Ticket System Launched

Ticketmaster is launching a new ticketing system that can passively check attendees into events using audio data from smartphones to reduce entry wait time.  As this article from The Verge explains, rather than manually scanning a QR code or barcode from a paper ticket, a ‘smart tone’ technology can receive attendees’ data over their smartphone’s ultrasonic sound transmission to verify their mobile ticket and ID, allowing people to cruise in simply by showing a green approved screen on their phones.

Since the e-ticket is tied to an individual’s account from a unique smartphone, Ticketmaster hopes the new check-in system can prevent fake tickets from being sold. Gaining access to a particular attendee’s smartphone also grants event venues precise geo-locations of each guest, allowing organisers to send personalised messages to individuals even as they move within the venue. In the future, Ticketmaster plans to add shopping capability with this sound recognition technology, so guests can purchase food and drink from their seats without waiting in line at concessions. The technology is currently available across specific venues in North America, with a global roll out expected to take place over the next four years.

Contently: What Are the Best Days and Times to Post on Social Media

One of the most important aspects of an event’s social media strategy, is knowing the best times to post content.  The reality of course is that there is no definitive truth and trends do vary, based on the individual behavioural patterns of your target audience.  Having said that, we came across this colourful infographic on Contently which does a good job of outlining general social media behaviour across key networks, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram.  Some highlights include how weekends are better for B2C than B2B, how everyone’s wasting time on social during their 3pm coffee break and how Mondays and Fridays are far less effective days to post than you think.

How are event planners managing invitations?  What are the best days and times for sending out invites? And is there a trend for more video and personalised content? Find out what your peers are doing by taking part in a two-minute survey here.

While on the subject of social media, we thought we’d also give you a heads up on Snapchat’s new set of self-serve tools, which allow marketers to create bespoke ads and target them without the need for a third-party. Snap Publisher has the potential to remove some of the costs associated with creating Snapchat campaigns by letting brands do things like convert horizontal video into vertical formats, enhance video with text and animation, as well as turn websites into Snap Ads.  For more details, have a look at this article from The Drum here.

MeetingsNet: New Tools to Engage Your Event Attendees

Engagement is at the heart of conferences and meetings. And while we all know that event apps are a great tool for getting attendees to engage with your event (and with each other), there are other technologies out there that can also do the job.  This article from MeetingsNet outlines some of the new tools that can help capture and maintain an attendee’s focus.  Highlights include a crowdsourcing tool called SharedXP, which allows organisers to consult with their networks and get ideas on the best and most relevant types of content they want to experience. Another one is the Play 2 Lead gamification platform that integrates leaderboard and quiz elements into VR or AR experiences.  Other featured tools include Giant iTab screens, smartphone microphones and robots that come pre-programmed with custom content for your attendees to engage with and learn from.

Read: 8 Ways to Boost Engagement AFTER Your Event

Moving slightly away from the world of events, we thought it would also be worthwhile sharing with you a video that showcases what impact technology can have on engagement. It is a visually stunning art project in Washington, DC that explores how humans interact with technology by inviting people to play with light. Its aim is to transport people to an immersive digital world where you can walk on ‘grass’ or manipulate a ‘swarm of bees’. Worth taking a look.

Event Industry News: FeedFloor Launches AirBnB for EXPOs

Launched earlier this year, FeedsFloor is the world’s first self-service online EXPO platform, which allows anyone to set-up and host their own EXPO online in just over two minutes. And it’s free. Organisers can invite exhibitors, whose profile and product information is automatically published on the EXPO page.  And once the EXPO is live, visitors can be invited to chat and engage with exhibitors in real-time.

It is an interesting development because even though face-to-face meetings are still the preferred method of meeting customers and business partners, the technology provides an opportunity to boost that participation online.  As explained in this article from EIN, the platform opens up new ways to include the digital engagement of exhibitors and visitors into physical exhibitions in a simple and cheap way – yet with great value for both exhibitors and visitors. An exhibitor can put a person that would normally not be standing on an exhibition stand (ex. CEO) on a chat with visitors for a couple of hours from anywhere.  Or a company from the UK can chat with a company from Singapore via an EXPO in Dubai. The platform also allows new niche concepts to be tested before investing resources into creating physical exhibition booths.

Event MB: 8 Events Innovating with Beacon Technology

Beacons have been around for several years now but they’re starting to be used more frequently with apps to improve attendees’ experiences and personalise events. If you’re considering using beacons for your next event, then it’s always a good idea to get some ideas from those events that have used the technology with success.  This article from Event MB lists some good examples, along with the benefits the beacons provide – from reducing waiting times and providing personalised information, to improving sponsorship deals, tracking attendee behaviour and hosting treasure hunts.

Did you enjoy reading this article? If you would like to get similar monthly round-ups on all things event tech, along with some expert advice on how to make the most out of your technology investments, then sign up to the EventTech Talk Newsletter here!