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. 

Technological Trends to Look Out for in 2017 Episode 4: Wireless Audio

Technological Trends to Look Out for in 2017 Episode 4: Wireless Headphones

Old Wireless Headphones

Wireless audio is another technology that isn’t exactly new; in fact I remember when I had my first pair of wireless headphones in the early 1990’s, they were this colossal pair of over the head headphones, that seriously looked like something from a 1980’s science fiction movie. They had big antennas sticking out of each earpiece wirelessly transmitting to a receiver dock which was plugged into the auxiliary port of my hi-fi/television dependant on which device I wanted to listen to. It seemed revolutionary at the time but the sound quality wasn’t great, the range and interference were even worse and don’t get me started on the battery life!

So what is with the resurgence of wireless headphones now? Although I don’t think you can call it the full definitive factor, but Apple’s notion to do away with the 3.5mm jack definitely put some weight behind the need for wireless audio this year. With rumours that other popular smartphone brands will also be ditching the 3.5mm jack, this only adds more fuel to the wireless fire. The reasoning behind the event many people on social media called #jackgate is that the analogue port just took up too much space with it being such old technology; it was time to fill that area with new technology.

Wireless Audio

Whilst talking rumours of other smartphone brands, it is also rumoured that this year we will see the arrival of smartphones with Bluetooth 5.  Bluetooth 5 is a dramatic improvement on current Bluetooth technology; it promises 4 times the range current Bluetooth has and doubles the speed all without increasing power consumption. This would work perfectly in conjunction with the resurgence of Bluetooth headphones; the gripe many users have currently is losing range and the sound cutting out, with this area strengthened and quadrupled in range, means no more sound drop outs due to the device being too far from the headphones.

The current headphone market is pretty extensive, there is a great range with several different price points and many different styles, including a limited range of wireless headsets. In my personal opinion I think suppliers this year will reduce their focus on wired earphones and start limiting these ranges, whilst placing more emphasis in taking the wired headphone styles and incorporating Bluetooth into them. One thing I am excited to see this year is if anyone goes down the same root as apple has and creates minimalistic Bluetooth earphones, that have a dedicated charging box, the reason being is I believe the charging box provides another great opportunity for the product to be further branded!

Technological Trends to Look Out for in 2017 Episode 3: Augmented Reality

Technological Trends to Look Out for in 2017 Episode 3: Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality on Bicycle

As you can see on timeline on our website we first saw augmented reality here at BTC Group in 2013, a company approached us to see how promotional products and clothing could work with augmented reality, and it did work really well, after a few projects, everything went quiet on the AR side and we didn’t really here much about it business wise and in general media trends. I believe a lot of this was purely down to limitation, there were very few applications out there that supported AR and some weren’t very user friendly at all, not only this but finding people to create content for you was like searching for gold dust, was limited and very expensive. Fast-forward a few years and an incredibly popular mobile game is released that incorporates AR as an integral part of the game of catching pocket sized creatures, and suddenly the world see augmented reality in a whole new light. It was this initial nudge in the right direction that was definitely needed for this technology to make it to mainstream, and people are really becoming more and more interested in not only augmented reality in gaming but how AR can benefit daily routine.

Microsoft HololensSo what kind of things can AR help with in the future? One humungous area AR can be beneficial is when buying product, over 180 billion pounds was spent online last year in the UK alone, many of these people not knowing what the clothing product would look like on, or what the kitchen table would look like in their house, pretty much all of this is done using guesswork. This is wear AR comes in through a device like the Microsoft HoloLens users will be able to see what the dress looks like when they are wearing it, or how a table looks in the room you want to put it and, you can also manipulate and rotate virtually without breaking a sweat!

What we will see in the promotional industry is further research and development into AR triggers, at the moment we’re seeing that using certain apps aiming the camera at imagery with triggers hidden inside is the current method to initiate AI, what would be great is for generic apps to just identify any promotional product, and add the AI element to it, for example T-Shirts with hidden slogans, or pet AI animals that are triggered by aiming the camera at promotional stuffed toys. Another great idea I’d love to see developed for the promotional product and giveaway industry is GPS triggered AR, making products at different locations trigger different things, this would add a whole new level to promotional products, making even the most affordable item more dynamic and fun. 

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