5 technologies that will make the return of live events even more thrilling
Live events are finally starting to come back. Here are the five technologies that will help make our experience as attendees even more pleasant and enjoyable.
After a long shutdown, live events are slowly coming back in most countries. As sport stadiums, concert venues and conference centers start filling up again, event organizers are confronted with the challenge of providing everyone with a safe experience, as the virus is still around.
Fortunately, the pandemic has also given us the opportunity to test and deploy new tools, devices and software that can make live events safer for everyone, while also providing attendees with a better user experience. Here are five key technologies that will provide a smooth, seamless experience as we start enjoying our favorite activities again over the coming months.
Fortunately, the pandemic has also given us the opportunity to test and deploy new tools, devices and software that can make live events safer for everyone, while also providing attendees with a better user experience.
3D modeling software
Let’s start with the preparation of the event. Thanks to progress in artificial intelligence and in GPU technology, event space design software is becoming more and more powerful. It means that nowadays, through technologies such as Building Information Modeling (BIM), you can easily create a digital twin of your venue, which allows you to check conformity and compliance, and customize your layout ahead of the event to maximize efficiency.
3D modeling software also makes it possible to run different scenarios and see how people will move around the space. You can thus make sure that there are no pinch points and that visitors can easily keep social distances or don’t waste too much time and energy being blocked in the crowd while moving around the venue, helping them have a safe and enjoyable experience.
Let’s say that there’s a big soccer game coming, for which you expect tens of thousands of spectators to show up. You can create a 3D model of the stadium, superimpose virtual avatars figuring the visitors, have them walk around the stadium and see how moving patterns change when you open or close a given access, or position the bar somewhere else. If you’re setting up a tradeshow, you can play with where the different booths, exhibits, registration tables and buffets will be to optimize foot traffic, but also lighting and decors. Going through different scenarios will ease planning and make sure that everything goes smoothly on D-Day.
Contactless entry technology
The event is finally here, and now comes the time to let attendees in. Having to show a paper ticket to enter an event venue in an era of smartphones and dematerialization was already starting to feel outdated. Since Covid, it also became a health hazard. In this context, tickets will soon become a relic of the past as most events move toward contactless entry. QR codes and barcodes are a great option to go contactless. Bracelets or access cards with RFID chips also offer a solid alternative to paper tickets, as they make the registration process smoother while also making it more difficult to sneak into an event with a contactless ticket.
“Our technology is as simple as a sticker containing an RFID antenna that can be integrated into any kind of ticket, bracelet, or access card to support the ticketing process,” says Bill Edwards, who led the development of GoGuide, a check-in technology developed by scientific and engineering consulting firm Thornton Tomasetti. It was recently used for the reopening of the Shed, a cultural center in NYC. Other technologies, such as CLEAR, offer touchless entry through scanning eyes and fingerprints, while others, like Wicket or Atos’ Advanced Access Control System, use facial authentication via AI-enabled cameras.
Guiding attendees with wearables
Now that all the attendees have entered the facilities, it is time to make sure they manage to get around and get the best from their experience. Another advantage of bracelets with RFID or Bluetooth technology is that they can help organizers know where people are in the venue, and thus provide attendees with tips and guidance.
“Not only can people easily check-in, but they can then also be guided through the event, this is a means of wayfinding. As RFID allows event organizers to know where people are, which is known as crowd density monitoring, they can also help them get to their next talk, using electronic signage on the walls or a digital map on the event app. When we’re talking of an event gathering thousands of people, this technology can make sure everyone is moving around efficiently to avoid traffic jams and overcrowded spaces. Additionally, directing people to areas that are less crowded if that is their choice,” says Bill Edwards.
The data collected from wearables can also provide event organizers with useful analytics, during and after the event. Planners can quickly reallocate staff and resources to meet with attendees’ behavior. And once the event closes, they can then track each session’s popularity or the length of attendee visits at each booth. Based on this information, adjustments can then be made to drive engagement further during the next edition.
AI-enabled crowd monitoring
Which brings us to our next point, which is AI-powered video analytics. Let’s say that you’re trying to make sure that people maintain social distancing. At Ipsotek, their algorithms can automatically calculate the distance between people on video recorded through surveillance cameras, making it possible to instantly spot when attendees are staying too close to one another and quickly find a solution. As an example, this kind of situation can happen because a bottleneck has formed at a certain spot, and organizers can then try to reroute foot traffic to give people more space.
AI-powered video analytics can also prove really useful in case of an emergency. The algorithms are also able to count how many people have entered or left a facility, for example by spotting attendees who’ve taken the elevator in or out of the event. This counting ability can prove quite useful if you’re trying to operate at 50% capacity because of Covid, but also if you’re trying to evacuate the venue because of a fire, the threat of a terrorist attack or another emergency situation. As firefighters and police forces come in, they will always ask the organizers how many people are left inside the facility, and with such a technology you’re able to give them a precise answer, potentially saving lives.
Finally, many conference centers and stadiums have concessions, which can be fast-food restaurants, food trucks, souvenir stores and so forth, and the fees they get charged usually depends on the estimated number of attendees at the event. Crowds monitoring technology allows you to check precisely how many people walked by a concession during a given event, and to charge less or more based on this precise data.
Data-enhanced fan experience
Gamification is a great way to keep your attendees engaged and build interactions with them throughout the event. Trivia games, digital quizzes, photo contests, virtual escape rooms and scavenger hunts all offer you the opportunity to have your audience interact with you, providing you with precious information to start building a relationship with attendees down the road. Games also help build camaraderie and well-being among them.
Wrapping up the event also provides the opportunity to reflect on what went well and what could be improved, and data collection makes it much easier, providing you with better accuracy in your return on investment analysis. As you’re already thinking of the next event, data collected both passively (through your mobile app, e-tickets and crowd-monitoring systems) and actively (through games and polls) can also be used for marketing purposes.
Combining it with email marketing tools such as HubSpot, MailChimp or MailerLite, you can improve future targeting and establish a privileged, hyper-personalized communication channel with your attendees, getting additional feedback from them, addressing the topics they are the most interested in and keeping them posted about upcoming announcements. You can then establish a feedback loop that will help your events get better and better over time.
The pandemic provided planners with a unique opportunity to make events safer, more efficient and more enjoyable as a whole. While this article mostly tackles indoor events, the next big challenge will be to improve the experience at events that are not confined to one single space, but rather occupy a whole part of a town, such as a marathon, a cycling race or a huge festival. This will require coming up with smart, holistic solutions that have still yet to be implemented. With the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, where the opening ceremony and some competitions will happen outside of the stadiums and fan zones will be implemented outside, it’s now becoming a key area to focus on.