There’s no denying that technology has developed rapidly over the past few decades and that this has had a colossal impact on the events industry. Organisers have had to continuously upskill, take on new responsibilities and face new technological challenges, and it's clear that the new-era technological revolution is showing no signs of slowing down.

With the impending arrival of the Metaverse and other evolving technologies such as AI, machine learning, and 5G slowly but surely making their way into our lives, we believe our society will continue to be transformed and shaped by the latest developments. This technology will change the way we live our lives, just as every new development has always done: fifty years ago, we didn't have mobile phones, and now we can't live without them!

In this piece, we aim to break down some of the latest emerging technologies we think should be on your radar and predict what the future holds for the events landscape to come.

Table of Contents

1. Hosting other-worldly events in the Metaverse
2. Thrilling your attendees with new realities
3. Delivering better virtual experiences with 5G
4. Ensuring your event is secure with facial recognition
5. Streamlining the planning process with digital floor plans
6. Tracking attendee data with 'wearable' event tech
7. Improving accessibility with technology
8. Creating unique experiences through holograms
The Big Picture

1. Hosting other-worldly events in the Metaverse

The Metaverse is coming and has the potential to change the events landscape in a BIG way. Essentially an immersive 3D environment that utilises new technologies to create a simulated world for users to interact with one another. Early applications of the metaverse have been rooted in the gaming world, however, it has huge potential for truly immersive virtual and hybrid events.

As is always the case with emerging technologies, finding engaging applications of the technology that align your brand and objectives with users' interests and desires is key. One of the most successful examples of the Metaverse is Decentraland, a play-to-earn blockchain game where players can purchase digital land, build their own programs and sceneries, explore their fellow players' land, and trade virtual possessions and land to earn income. They even recently launched their first-ever, live, multi-artist virtual music festival, To The Moon, as part of Decentraland Art Week. With over 700 attendees, To The Moon has certainly shown the potential this emerging technology may have for the events sector.

We’ve even seen the launch of Mars House, a digital venue that made history as one of the first-ever digital homes to be sold as an NFT for more than $500k in 2021. A collaboration between digital artist, Krista Kim, and music collaboration with Jeff Schroeder of the Smashing Pumpkins, it has become an iconic venue in VR for private events.

Although there is still a long way to go for the Metaverse to be accessible by the masses. The cost of developing a truly unique, immersive and customised virtual world in the Metaverse can be excessive, without even taking into account the availability of VR headsets for users. Devices connecting to the Metaverse will often require strong internet speeds and computer processing capabilities, limiting the potential audience for any of its applications. And finally, the Metaverse creates a disconnect between the virtual world and real life and although this evolving technology is fascinating, the pandemic has certainly taught us that people value in-person interactions above virtual experiences.

Despite these drawbacks, the Metaverse can be used to level the playing field for event experiences across all of your audiences, whichever location or background they're coming from. For better or worse, it's inevitable that the Metaverse will become a key player in events within the next 10 years.

2. Thrilling your attendees with new realities

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) have become increasingly popular technologies in the events world. Just the premise of being able to literally transport your attendees to a different world with one little headset is sure to bring a 'wow' factor to any event, to merge the in-person and digital experience like never before.

Many applications of VR and AR in events can be quite elementary, with sponsors using VR games and activities to entice delegates to their stands, but this tech can be used to go much deeper. VR and AR are being used more and more in the education sector. For example, you can learn about constellations with SkyView, step inside the human body with Microsoft HoloLens, and even climb Mount Everest with Google Expeditions. Imagine the possibilities of the things we could see, touch, and learn at our events through the power of this technology.

The key thing to remember in our evolving events industry is that it's all about giving attendees a memorable experience. Find creative ways to engage your audience, and align it with your brand and event objectives. Your attendees won't forget your event anytime soon if your keynote was presented to them under the sea!

Google Expeditions
Google Expeditions

3. Delivering better virtual experiences with 5G

With 5G on the horizon, the whole world will soon experience internet speeds up to 500% faster than current bandwidth. This increased speed will allow for higher-quality sound, images, and videos, which will reduce streaming frustrations and make the whole event much more seamless. 5G has the potential to completely transform the live experience and drive forward the more immersive approach which is becoming a requisite for events. For venues, slow wifi will be a thing of the past, and the more advanced technology allowing for improved security too.

For large-scale events, 5G will transform the attendee experience. Imagine going to a football match and being able to watch instant HD replays from different angles on your phone, or watching a fashion show where superimposed fireworks explode behind the models. 5G will also be incredibly useful for safety and security - mobile networks get majorly congested at large events and put a huge strain on the ability of the emergency services to be able to deal with emergencies quickly. With 5G, there will be a fast, reliable communication network enabling them to attend to emergencies much faster.

4. Ensuring your event is secure with facial recognition

Most of us have facial recognition on our phones these days, and while it's a nifty tool to save us a bit of time when we're on the go, it is also an increasingly useful tool in the events industry. This technology can identify people in seconds using unique software, allowing quick and easy check-in at an event rather than needing to queue at a desk, saving time and resources and improving the attendee experience. The facial recognition industry is set to be worth $19 billion by 2025.

Organisers can also utilise facial recognition to boost security and keep on top of who is at their events. As an example, back in 2018, Taylor Swift used this software to identify if her known stalkers were attempting to access one of her concerts. This (hopefully!) won't be the case for most events, but it offers some peace of mind for organisers to know that there is an identification check going on without them even needing to lift a finger.

Additionally, data analysis tools utilising facial recognition technology have the potential for event organisers to gain an entirely new understanding of the success of an event. Providing data in real-time about how your attendees are engaging with the various elements of your event and their emotional responses, organisers can ensure they optimise the attendee and stakeholder experiences.

5. Streamlining the planning process with digital floor plans

Any event organiser worth their salt knows that floor plans change. A lot. So whilst the digitisation of floor plans may not necessarily be brand new cutting-edge technology, it has become much more sophisticated and poses new opportunities for organisers to save time and hassle.

With the ability to drag and drop, take a 3D walk-through, easily amend seating plans and layouts etc, organisers will save valuable time during the planning process, especially for large-scale exhibitions and conferences. This tech is also super useful when in conversation with sponsors, to be able to easily show them where they'll be positioned on the exhibition floor and to be able to just as easily move them should you need to. It can also be a great way to show your platinum or gold sponsors that they'll be in prime position on the day.

Some platforms even allow organisers to create bespoke interactive event maps for attendees that can be embedded into an event app, whereby they can click into each room and find out useful information, such as speakers and session timings, again increasing the touchpoints between organiser and attendee and blending the experience into a seamless one.

6. Tracking attendee data with 'wearable' event tech

This is a really cool tool that we think will become much more popular over the next few years. Essentially, this is a wristband or badge which is embedded with a radio-frequency identification chip (RFID).

These are scannable chips which track a range of metrics linked to the behaviour and movement of attendees, such as check-ins, room traffic, time spent in sessions and time spent at exhibitor booths. You could even use it to see when your VIP speakers have arrived, or gain biometric data about the attendees’ emotional states!

This tech can provide organisers with lots of useful insights to not only ensure the day flows better but for analysing ROI and other success metrics. Check out Identilam for more insight on how their wearable tech works.

In addition to gathering data on attendee movements, there are all sorts of wearable technology that you could use to complement your event. There are glasses that allow facial recognition, earpieces that provide live translations, and t-shirts that allow you to charge your phone at the event. This technology is constantly evolving and we're really excited to see what the future holds for wearable technology.

chip

7. Improving accessibility with technology

Accessibility and inclusion in events is an area that can often be overlooked. We have a moral imperative as events organisers to ensure our events are accessible and inclusive of all audiences, and technology can play a huge role in getting us there.

The widespread adoption of virtual and hybrid events has allowed us to have attendees from all over the world. Overcoming the language barrier is key for many of these events. Offering live translation allows the inclusion of attendees who might otherwise miss out on the experience, simply for not speaking the speakers' language.

Live translation also offers a new opportunity for organisers to create more culturally-diverse panels, and partner with organisers and speakers all over the world. Useful in applications for both virtual and in-person events via audio translation live through headphones or virtual platforms. In addition, offering Sign Language Interpreters, Braille, captions and audio descriptions can also help to ensure that as many people as possible can enjoy the experience.

There are increasingly more and more tools and resources for prioritising inclusion, some of which you can find in this piece on the future of accessibility in events from our session with Isaac Harvey at International Confex 2022.

woman on laptop

8. Creating unique experiences through holograms

Last but not least, another inspiring piece of tech we think will shape the future of the events industry is the use of holograms. At one time, holograms were simply a figment of our imaginations or technology only to be found in sci-fi films, but

They could be used to emulate celebrities or high-profile speakers to deliver keynotes and speeches, demonstrate new products, add some fun to a drinks reception, as a tool for creative brand activations, even to bring back a figure from the past. ... the only limit is your imagination! Holographic technology was recently adopted during the Coronavirus pandemic by ESPN: through the use of holograms, they were able to interview quarantining sports players in the studio live on-air, creating a much more seamless and polished experience than just hopping on a Zoom call. ABBA will be shortly kicking off their highly anticipated hologram tour to promote their first album in 40 years in a purpose-built state of the art arena.

These futuristic displays have the potential to revolutionise events and experiences, bringing new levels of immersion and interactivity to everything from conferences to award ceremonies, and we're excited to see what the future holds.

The Big Picture

So what does all this inspiring and emerging technology actually mean for the events industry? Well, we think it shows that experiences at events are going to be even more relevant than ever, and that the industry looks really bright!

Saying that, one of the biggest barriers to the rollout of revolutionary technology is its adoption. All of this new technology is all well and good, but if people don't feel comfortable using it (or can't afford to), then it's redundant! We need to focus on creating experiences that people genuinely want to engage with and use tech to facilitate this.

For example, Nike has delivered multiple iconic brand activations throughout the years, using technology to complement its brand messaging and objective. One such activation was a photo booth that allowed visitors to become the face of the Nike Science of Speed campaign. The magic of this activation was that it was so simple, but in those moments truly made the user feel valued, seen, and feel like they were part of their favourite brand. It was of course also shareable on social media, increasing brand reach and continuing to cement them as the iconic global brand they have been for decades.

In a similar vein, we predict that with this tech and the direction it's heading, our industry will indeed focus on being much more experiential and creating out-of-this-world experiences for our attendees. We think there will be a seismic shift away from run-of-the-mill content and instead, we'll enter into a whole new world that challenges our own sense of reality. Who knows, in 30 years, events may be run entirely by robots! Whichever direction it's going, the future of events looks really exciting.

What do you think? Do you think these new technologies will drive the industry forward and change its landscape for the better? Or perhaps they’ll hinder the experience? Are you excited about the future of event tech?

event tech

We hope this piece has given some food for thought about the future of event technology and what it means for the industry. If you have any thoughts we’d love to hear from you! Reach out to us on our social channels below to continue the conversation.