29 Jun 2011

Ali Reece, head of DBpixelhouse, which is the creative arm of AV & IT rental company DB Systems, looks at the growing demand from exhibitors for interactive technologies.

We all know that in the busy event environment, exhibitors have all but a matter of seconds to grab a person’s attention and hopefully convert an individual with a passing interest into a potential customer, so it’s crucial that the shape and scale of audio visual technology is successfully used to enhance a brand’s message.

At the top end of the AV scale are the interactive technologies, such as augmented reality (AR), 3D, multi-touch and holographic systems. Such technologies are not gimmicks. They are a mainstay of AV communications. That’s because people are no longer interested in simply looking. They want to be part of the experience, which is what interactive technology allows.

Over the past year there has been a steadily growing demand from exhibitors for these advanced forms of interactive technologies. Some companies are spending a lot of money on 3D and it’s quite a big thing in the live events environment. Meanwhile, AR (computer generated information and/or images that are superimposed on to a real world setting) is a fun but powerful communication tool. Where AR will come into its own is the new-found ability to release apps for smartphones. This is where it moves from interesting tech to becoming really memorable and useful, such as holding your smartphone up to a trigger and getting the AR experience on your phone at the show.

This year alone, we’ve done various projects at the events, such as the Paris Air Show, that we would not have dreamed of doing a few years ago. The demand for this type of AV will continue to grow.

Of course, this level of high-end interactive technology is expensive due to the cost of creating the content, which means at present it’s only really being used by those with the biggest budgets.

The question that exhibitors will inevitably be asked is, can the cost justified? My view is that if you use the technology correctly, it successfully promotes brands or product, helps with sales, gets you noticed, then yes, the cost is justified. Though, as a supplier, DB would only recommend our customers use the equipment and technology that we think would work best for them. That way, the cost is ALWAYS justified.

It should be remembered that it’s not always necessary for exhibitors to spend their budget on expensive high-end interactive systems if they don’t need to. AV providers can still offer SMEs, with smaller budgets, an impressive interactive solution by using simple, straight-forward technology but in an innovative way to provide that required level if interaction.

For example, at one show we installed two standard seamless plasma screens, which served as a visual incentive for delegates to enter the stand. However, the innovative use of these screens was through having the walls facing each other and programming the display content in such a way that the exhibitor’s key messages bounced from one screen to the other. This interactive set-up proved to be a great hit with delegates, while at the same time getting the key message across in a clear, exciting yet cost effective way

You can achieve impressive results with other relatively inexpensive interactive technologies, such as iPads or touchscreens. The reason the iPad is proving popular is down to its versatility. A savvy AV provider can design iPad apps for use by clients at specific shows depending on their needs and what they wish to achieve, such as for entertainment or the distribution of corporate information.

Looking into the future, I expect to see more products and systems that allow greater interaction between companies and their customers. Also, I expect the cost of creating content to fall.

In addition, playback systems, such as PCs, will become more advanced because the content that is displayed on screens, such as graphics, videos and animation, will become more media rich in terms of higher definition and greater resolution. Therefore, more powerful computers and sophisticated graphic cards will be required to handle and play this content.

Exhibitors should certainly embrace and welcome the evolving AV market, not be frightened or intimidated by it.

As featured on MEETINGS:review.

For further information about DB Systems call +44(0)345 226 3083 or email alastair.reece@dbsystems.co.uk.

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