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Invest only in proven technology

Sort the hype from the real benefits

I’ve often written about the hype surrounding new tech products and our industry’s insistence on announcing them with fanfares and declarations that they’re life-changing. This insistence in promoting untried tech can be confusing and organisers often say that choosing the right tech is the most confusing part of their role. Anyone in this bewildering position may find it useful to consider this: all new technology goes through a ‘hype cycle’ – five key phases of a technology’s lifecycle. Understanding the hype cycle will help you decide if, or when, to adopt a technology.

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Assess your tech supplier

Not only equipment has to be fail-safe

The Internet of things (IoT) has received some bad press recently when the company behind Revolv announced that they are withdrawing all support for the product. Revolv is a little device that sits in your home and allows you to control lighting, heating and other home functions remotely via an app on a mobile device. The company behind it announced a while ago that they would be halting manufacture, but only now have they completely withdrawn support. Without that support it simply stops working – rendering it ‘as useful as a tub of humus’ according to one disgruntled user.

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Don’t believe the hype!

A very successful low-tech conference – on technology!

In our industry, we seem to be constantly told that keeping abreast of technology is essential; our industry conferences would seem antiquated without the obligatory technology streams. But who’s telling us that it’s vital to use the latest technology in events and where’s the proof?

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Technology in events is all talk and no action

Simon Clayton is still waiting for it to have an effect

Technology evolves at an ever increasing speed but when it comes to the implementation of the latest gadgets and gizmos in the events industry, I’m still yet to see the promised ‘massive impact’ or signs that it is a ‘game changer’.
Every year we’re told of the major tech trends to watch, as each is certain to revolutionise the way we set-up, hold and report on our events. In this article I’m going to go through five of the trends which were predicted for 2015 to see if they really did change the industry.


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Don’t distract with technology

It only helps the good presenters

Over the years I’ve been to countless conferences and witnessed every conceivable level of presentation – from the amazing right through to the depressingly awful and that goes for both speakers and topics.
I vividly remember one session where the speaker was interminably dull and spent the whole session with his back to the audience. On that occasion I felt compelled to stay - in the hope that he would turn around and I’d see his face when he discovered that most of his initially sizable audience had silently crept out!


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Should we be using virtual reality in the events industry?

Or is it still at the gimmick stage?

Last month the Marriott hotel chain introduced its new ‘VRoom Service’, offering guests room-service delivery of a virtual reality kit comprising a Samsung Gear VR headset, smartphone and a pair of headphones.
The devices are preloaded with three different 360-degree 3D ‘virtual visits’ and take guests to an ice cream shop in Rwanda, the Andes Mountains in Chile and the streets of Beijing. The two-minute ‘VR Postcards’ videos feature real travellers who share their stories about how much they value exploring other countries, cultures and experiences.


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Keeping track of delegates

John Fisher chips in with a suggestion

Pet owners may well be familiar with microchips that carry information in a small, plastic RFID, usually inserted into the back of an animal’s neck. In the UK some 7m pets are ‘chipped’ in this way, so that, if lost, they can easily be returned to their anxious owners.
It was Dr Mark Gasson who first pioneered the idea of data-carrying chips for humans in 2009 in the UK. The chip would carry vital health information in the event of accident or an incapacitating illness, so that medical professionals could diagnose problems more quickly and restore the patient to health again.


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Make event apps a necessity not a novelty

Apps will only be used if they bring obvious benefits

Google recently confirmed that in ten countries, including the US and Japan, more searches take place on mobile devices than on computers.
Couple that with research from Nielsen’s latest Smartphone App Report, which explained that adult smartphone users were spending an average of more than 43 hours each month accessing content via applications, and it’s easy to see why the events industry is trying to utilise the power of the mobile and, with it, apps.


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Aerial drones are seen at more events

Make sure you know the rules, advises Simon Clayton

Radio-controlled aircraft aren’t a new thing by any means, but, lately, drones seem to have captured the public interest like nothing we’ve seen before in this field. Such is the explosion of interest that the UK’s first consumer drone event, UK Drone Show 2015, is being held at the NEC in Birmingham in December 2015.
Some of this interest in the latest selection of drones stems from their advanced electronics. They are gyro-stabilised, which means they aren’t as hard to fly – but don’t get me wrong; that doesn’t mean they are easy to fly either.


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Low-cost spherical photography is a benefit

Meeting room at the Brooklands Hotel - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

See this example of a hotel meeting room

There is nothing new about panoramic imagery to capture 360-deg images, but before digital photography it was difficult to view the images. Now, with the technology is more practical and easier to use.
Thanks to digital photography, a panorama can be created using nearly every digital camera and smartphone and the results can be shared easily online and on most smart devices. The technology is now so readily available that it has moved into the mainstream, with even small businesses adopting the trend.


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5 essentials for 2015

Concentrate on the basics and not the fluff

There have been numerous predictions over the past couple of months announcing the trends that should be adopted in 2015. They are, of course, as usual, ‘going to transform the industry’ and ‘not paying attention to them will be costly’. But, these dramatics aside, what I would actually like to see this year, is everyone, instead, getting the basics right.

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Real-time voice translations make progress

Science fiction becoming reality

Microsoft has recently started the preview program for Skype Translator, which allows English and Spanish speakers to converse in their native languages. I find that a wonderful use of technology.
Much like the Universal Translator used in Star Trek, Skype’s system uses speech recognition and intelligent translation technology, which, thanks to its machine-learning, gets smarter the more it is used.


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Meet with anyone from anywhere

Simon Clayton wonders if Facebook will change the format of future meetings

Discussions about virtual meetings seem to be on the increase again. Unfortunately some people seem to think it’s all new: in fact, virtual meetings have been around for years, although the technology used to be called teleconferencing. In that guise, it involved groups of people gathering in specially equipped rooms. They would be able to see and hear each other and it was fine as far as it went, but it never really took off.

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A safer way to choose a password

Online security is a subject I'm passionate about. Choosing a good password is the most crucial element in keeping online accounts safe. Here is an outline of the current best practice for passwords. I specifically say ‘current’ best practice, because, like most things, the advice can change from time to time and has changed over recent years.
The old advice for creating a secure password was to have a random string of upper and lower case letters interspersed with numbers and symbols.


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Time to consider our own data security

Recent stories about celebrities’ selfies being taken from their iCloud accounts and posted on the Web should have the effect of focussing everybody’s attention on data security. The problem is that all too often that phrase is interpreted as referring only to whether or not some remote corporation is doing all that it should to protect our personal information.

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