Bringing your Conference into the 21st Century, Episode 3: Augmented Reality

Bringing your Conference into the 21st Century, Episode 3: Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality DevicesBack in 1994 an artist called Julie Martin conceptualised and brought to stage the world’s first augmented reality dance production called “dancing in cyberspace.” During the production the dancers would dance and interact with full life sized virtual objects. From the viewers perspective the dancers were fully immersed in the virtual environment, creating a full augmented experience.

When it comes to conferences, not too dissimilar to theatre performances, there is a stage or a viewing platform where the audience’s attention is centralised around, and a budding audience that needs to have their attention retained for the entirety of the performance, for anyone that’s ever been to a conference or seminar, where the topic is somewhat mundane, not to the fault of the speaker, it can be difficult retaining the attention of the crowd. This situation worsened with the introduction of smartphones, people either checking their e-mails, WhatsApp, snapchat etc.

Bringing Augmented Reality into the world of conferences can really change this; augmented reality brings flat images and ideas to life through the use of an overlaying device. In the same way that virtual reality can transport you to another place, augmented reality can transport things to you! Back to the Mount Everest example, using augmented reality you can show the audience an obviously scaled down 3d rendering of Mount Everest with a computer animation of the path you took, you 3D Rendering of Everestcan also compare the size of Everest with other real world examples, which just wouldn’t be possible to imagine without visual representation. Now this is all great in theory, but what about execution? Remember those VR headsets we distributed in the 360 video topic? These can double up as augmented reality headsets as long as the VR viewer has a camera panel, (which most do!)

If you have already paid enough for Augmented Reality content and do have budget for, or simply do not want to distribute VR headsets, there is a solution for this too! Almost everyone at that conference will already have a tool that can view augmented reality, yes that pesky smartphone that previously at conferences would provide a distraction, can be turned on its head and be used as the viewing tool for AR devices. All you need to do is distribute material with an AR trigger built into an image, when the person aims their smart device at the image, with the correct app loaded up, they will see a live rendering of whatever you want the image to trigger, this could be a video, or a 3d rendered model, if you’d like to know more about augmented reality, check out my previous blog series! What we have seen done in the past, is for companies to incorporate an augmented reality strategy, with their promotional product strategy essentially fulfilling too needs with one deed, you are getting your brand awareness by printing your imagery on a product, but at the same time, that imagery would contain triggers that would work in the world of augmented reality.

Bringing your Conference into the 21st Century, Episode 2: 360 Video

Bringing your Conference into the 21st Century, Episode 2: 360 Video

Conference MeetingThe conference and meeting partition of the events sector is worth a whopping 19.9 billion pounds in the UK alone, with conferences and meetings being held constantly up and down the country. One of the bonuses of having a company in and around London is that London is the number one city for in terms of meetings and events activity in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). The average conference in the UK has 258 delegates, now again this would be great if everyone had companies in and around London, with London being the hub, but chances are there will be companies wanting to send delegates from all over the country, and EMEA, depending on the conference. The problem is some companies especially SME’s may not have the resources to send staff to a conference, regardless of how much they would benefit from attending.

Many conferences with try to accommodate for those who cannot attend by recording the seminars and hosting and sending them to the absentees, but even still many people receive the seminar videos, with full intention of watching them, but just never get round too it, which is why working in real time is so important. This is where 360 degree video comes into the picture, as described in my last blog series “a video recording where an omnidirectional camera records in every direction at the same time. During playback the viewer is fully immersed in the spot the recording was made, the panoramic feature allows you to scroll around to see the surroundings, or using a VR headset with a gyroscopic sensor the viewer turns their head to look around them, seeing the whole environment exactly as it was recorded.”

Now envisage this in the conference environment, not only would it be great for speakers that use the whole of the stage, but imagine being able to look around using a VR viewer and seeing everyone’s reactions as the seminar proceeds, providing you with a fully immersed experience. You could implement this in several different ways, you can either record the whole seminar in 360 degree video, sending absentees the link, or you could live stream the event in 360 degree format, this way people will be able to attend from across the world in real-time and not miss buzz of finding out information as it is released.

360 Everest360 Video does not simply have to be a communication tool; it can also be used in the same way videos are used, as support material for presentations. Many conference speakers like to include a life experience anecdote in their seminars, whether it’s scaling Everest or exploring the Serengeti, just for a moment imagine how good it would be to experience those moments with the speaker, if everyone in the room was given a VR viewer, the could first person see the experience of being in the Serengeti or Everest, just without all the negatives of being really cold and the 38.5 mile dangerous trek to base camp. When it comes to giving promotional items at conferences, conference folders are generally top of the list, they are useful and relevant to the event, but that’s not stopping you from adding VR Viewers. As a matter of fact in our range we have a VR viewer with all over print (fantastic for branding) that is flat packed perfect to fit in a conference folder! 

Bringing your Conference into the 21st Century, Episode 1: USB Type C

Bringing your Conference into the 21st Century, Episode 1: USB Type C

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Hopefully you would have seen my top 5 technological Trends that I think will be popular this year. Now when I say this year, I mean they will begin to gain mainstream attention and will continue on to change the world we live in, our daily routines, health and fitness, hobbies and habits, the way we work and yes even the way our conferences and exhibitions work. When it comes to conferences and exhbitions I have identified four of these five trends that would work perfectly in the conference and events world, splicing this with some promotional product ideals creates new and innovative ways of bringing yesterday’s exhibitions and conferences into the world of tomorrow.

USB Type C

We’ve seen it all before, a speaker turns up to give his speech at a conference and doesn’t have the right cables, or is having issues with the over complicated AV system, where possible scenarios involve the sound working without video support or the video is working but is in black and white or at the wrong aspect ratio, I have even been to some conference centres which only use an S-Video input, I mean… who even uses S-Video anymore?? Then the AV team need to rifle through their bag of connections and dongles, realise you only have a HDMI input on your laptop but their connector only changes it from S-Video to VGA, ah yes but now we have another connector which changes VGA to DVI, still not quite 

USB Type C

their so let’s add on another connector to change DVI to HDMI and by the time you get there, the video quality isn’t great and quite frankly now your visual support aid has become a video hindrance because rather than giving your speech you’ve spent 20 minutes out of your 45 minute allotted slot sorting out the AV problems.

Now how does USB Type C instantly solve this issue, the answer is it doesn’t, well not directly and not instantly. What USB Type C WILL DO (with time) is replace the need for all other types of cables, as I explained in my previous white paper, USB Type C support not only replaces the functions of current USB, where it is used as a plug and play connection for pc peripherals, and as power supply to portable electronic devices, but USB Type C also will support sound and visual transfer also, thus replacing all other Audio Visual cables. In the not too distant future, there is a possibility everything will be solved with one cable, a double ended USB Type C cable, and all ports will be USB Type C ports, and although we’re not saying go now and implement this into your conference room, it would not hurt to look into integrating a USB Type C port in your AV panel, if/when it needs updating.

There is another way USB Type C can help you “bring your conference into the 21st century,” in the past when attending conferences I have received products like a folders, stationary items and USB flash drive, in my technological trends white paper there is a product that could crossover here. I mentioned a USB Flashdrive that was double ended, one end being your generic USB plug in, and the other end being a USB type C connection, this provides you with the flexibility to plug it into a great range of personal computer and mobile devices. More and more people are switching to tablets and smaller computer; the USB type C is now allowing devices to go smaller and thinner by not having to incorporate the large USB port. This is a solution that can be looked into from your next conference down to its backwards compatibility and if your USB flash drive is USB 3.0 it will transfer at faster rates also!

Technological Trends to Look Out for in 2017 Episode 5: Smarter Technology

 Technological Trends to Look Out for in 2017 Episode 5: Smarter Technology

Internet of Things

Now the title smarter technology seems to be a very broad term, but it’s a term that you will be hearing a lot in the next few years. Along with a new terminology will become household jargon “Internet of Things.” Now if you don’t know what this means, I will give you a very feasible example before giving you the full definition.

You’re feeling a bit stressed out as of late and feel like having a family movie night therefore you mark, in your electronic based calendar, ‘Family movie night 7pm Thursday’ this will now not only appear on all your smart devices but on all your families calendars synced devices also. Come Thursday you will find that you will have received a delivery of popcorn and sweets, at a time where someone would definitely be home, again judged by the online family schedules. When you open the package you see the snacks measured out into perfect 

Amazon Alexa

proportions according to families consumption habits. At approximately 6.45pm you will receive a notification from your microwave that to have your popcorn at perfect eating temperature you should insert at 6.50 for 5 minutes then cool for 5 minutes, so you don’t burn your mouth on the hot kernels. Your entertainment system has already selected according to previous watching choices of the whole family what film selection you all would like to watch, and has adjusted to your mood which it would have read from you’re wearable technology watch, all of your phones automatically switches themselves to answer machine mode and will only allow contacts marked as urgent through during the period of the film. Your lighting around the house will automatically turn everything else off, and have low cinema watching light in your viewing area.

 This is just one viable example of how the internet of things potentially could work. The Internet of Things can be defined as an internetworking of physical items that can be as small as wristbands, shoes and toothbrushes, to as large as vehicles, rooms and buildings. These are embedded with electronics that can collect and share data either processed by themselves, or by a central processing unit. There are so many applications for this, the number of possibilities is limitless and with the popularity of home assistants on the rise, such as Amazon Echo and Google those central processing units can become artificially intelligent assistants.

Water BottleSo how is smarter technology going to make its way across into promotional products? There is already a small range of wearable technology in the promotional market, showing signs already of smarter technology making its way across. Activity wristbands connect to your phone feeding it up-to date data of steps taken and calories burnt, now app dependant this will go through processing and calculate how many calories you now need to reach your optimum weight. Another health and lifestyle related item I have seen on the promotional market, actually works perfectly as a promotional gift, is a water bottle that measure how much liquid you are drinking throughout the day, and encourages you to drink more. Now by combining this with your smart connected wearable device, telling you how many calories you’re burning, along with a smart connected weighing scale you can see the conversation these ‘Internet of Things’ can be having to improve your daily health.

These five product categories really do exhibit the fact that new technology doesn’t necessarily have to mean a completely new invention, the wheel doesn’t have to be invented over and over again, it can just be a newer and smarter version of old technology. We see this all the time, but now with the introduction of the Internet of things, we are seeing not only smarter devices, we are seeing smarter devices that talk to each other and learn from each other. With all this being said, I still look forward to the day I can add flying cars, spaceships, teleportation systems and other futuristic technology to the what’s trending list!

Jackie Chan brings Two Stuffed Panda Mascots to the 89th Academy Awards Red Carpet

Jackie Chan brings Two Stuffed Panda Mascots to the 89th Academy Awards Red Carpet

Jackie CHan PandasRight now as I type this Jackie Chan is trending on Facebook for what, his latest martial arts related films? Nope, he is trending on twitter for the surprising guests he brought to this year’s Oscar Ceremony. Generally Hollywood stars have been noticed for bringing their parents or even their children when the norm is to bring your significant other, but Jackie Chan this year takes the spotlight by accompanying two stuffed pandas on the red carpet. 

This was no random occurrence; he did not cross-examine his teddy bear collection, see the two pandas and then decide to select them, Jackie Chan who plays the voice of the Monkey in the Kung Fu Panda series of movies, adopted two Pandas in 2009 from China's Chengdu Giant Panda Research and Breeding Base, and was then dubbed Chengdu Panda Ambassador.

The two handsomely dressed stuffed Pandas known as Chan La and Chan Zy were made in honour of his adopted pandas. On the Red carpet during an interview Jackie Chan described these pandas as his two baby boys, providing him with a platform to discuss in brief, their backstory of how after an earthquake the pandas he adopted were hurt, and he raised them, and how this led him to become Panda ambassador. You will see one of the pandas is also donning a UNICEF pin badge, due to the fact that in 2004 Chan was appointed as Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF.

I just think what a great thing for Jackie Chan to do, in amidst of all the glitz and glamour, to utilise the 89th Academy Awards as the platform to speak about something you care about, and to gain the attention by use of stuffed animals is a stroke of genius, these actions created conversations not only at the award ceremony but all over the world, through social media channels as people showed their appreciation on Twitter and Facebook.

PPWeek PandaBeing in the promotional product industry you can’t just help to think, this is a fantastic way to gain attention through promotional products, not only is Jackie Chan using a product that is used frequently in many different ways for promotional use like a mascot, but it was also wearing a pin badge which is a beacon for charity merchandise across the world.

Like I said it is not a new thing to utilise mascots to spread a message, in fact in 2015 the BPMA (British Promotional Merchandise Association) used a similar Panda mascot to spread the word of Promotional Products week, a week we have in the United Kingdom dedicated to spreading the word of the value a promotional product has when advertising. Here at BTC Group we played on this by showing the mascot in different areas of BTC HQ, “teaching” Promotional Panda all the unique selling points BTC Group has to offer whilst creating a social media story through posting pictures of different stages of Promotional Panda’s learning experience. 

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