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Technology Update

New and exciting innovations combine with industry standards in the field of meeting and event technology, all woven seamlessly together by industry experts who help planners put on their best possible events.

From crystal clear audio to stunning visual effects to imagery and lighting that take functions to a whole new level, these technologies have an impact on virtually every facet of an event from start to finish.

Here, industry experts in the field of meeting and event technology offer insights and observations about what’s new and exciting for group functions in 2018 and beyond.

According to Steve Wildemann, president at Advanced Staging Productions, LED is still all the rage. “As pixel pitch and prices continue to get smaller, LED plays a bigger and bigger part in events, both indoors and out. We all know about the outdoor ‘JumboTron’ screens that have typically been cost prohibitive for many events. That technology has become more accessible as prices have dropped and the methods of installing it have become more efficient. That makes it easier to include for content display, creative décor and digital signage.”

Robert Morbeck, lighting department manager at Advanced Staging Productions, notes that automated and computer-controlled lighting continues to make big strides as newer LED fixtures become increasingly prevalent.

“One such technology,” he says, “is a tracking system that allows moving lights to be used as follow spots. For years, the inability to automate this process has plagued the industry, necessitating the hiring of numerous extra people to man individual lights to effectively follow presenters or performers. The automated systems in use require a complicated setup of sensors and receptors to pinpoint target location and are not very effective.”

“The emerging technology puts a small camera facing the stage and computer software that recognizes moving shapes as human beings, ‘does the math,’ and sends commands to the lighting console that allow the lights to track the targets in real time,” he continues. “It’s in its experimental phase, but could greatly reduce the amount of people needed for performance-based events once perfected.”

When it comes to saving time and money, Jimmy Cathers, audio department manager at Advanced Staging Productions, suggests that one area planners can increase efficiency when it comes to technology without necessarily having to sacrifice any quality is Audio Over IP. “Running sound digitally over small, lightweight Cat5 or Cat6 cables has a number of benefits, especially for large outdoor events with multiple long audio runs.”

“By running your sound digitally, it eliminates the hums and interference that analog lines present, meaning better sound and less troubleshooting time,” he continues. “And the lightweight nature of the cable means much less time humping large reels of audio snakes around a wide area. The result is higher quality sound with a huge time savings.”

No matter what equipment or services are being utilized for an event, communication and partnership are critical when dealing with technology and the companies who provide it, says Ryan McLaughlin, vice president of operations at Advanced Staging Productions.

“We do not expect you to be experts in new tech... that is our job,” explains McLaughlin. “And we in the event technology industry are more than ready to help you, but we need to know what your hopes and dreams are for your production. Collaboration with a true partner is essential. The earlier we can understand your expectations, the better we can fulfill them in a timely fashion and under budget.”

He further suggests involving technology partners in areas like venue selection and walk-throughs, as well. This will allow them to make the right recommendations that will actually work in the space that is ultimately chosen.

According to Warren S. Abraham, VP, business development for IMS Technology Services, there are a number of great technologies that are being utilized for meetings and events today. Among the most popular are “Video Mapping, blended projection, 2nd Screen Technology, and multiple uses of lighting to enhance events."

He adds that audience engagement through the use of audience response systems has come a long way in the past five years, noting that physical keypads are no longer required, as attendees now can use their mobile devices to participate.

When talking with possible technology partners regarding upcoming events, Abraham says planners should discuss ideas as well as budget. Sharing information such as pictures from prior years’ events, past expenditures, goals and visions also are important.

Paul Wedesky, CASE, CMP is the chief operating officer for IMS Technology Services. He says that all things digital are really big right now in event technology. “Digital Signage, 2nd Screen Technology, streaming, content extension - keeping the content alive online. IMS is focused on digital services and content management, as we recently have launched IMS Content Concierge Services."

He explains that all planners want more interaction and more audience collaboration as part of their meetings and events. Wedesky says that IMS’s 2nd Screen Technology is built for the meetings industry and was launched as part of IMS Content Concierge Services. “Content creation is a major need for planners to stay fresh and relevant with their attendees. Video Mapping, animation and content creation... [can be combined to generate] a real ‘wow’ factor."

Wedesky notes that use of technology at events, such as Internet access and Wi-Fi, has become an integral part of the meetings industry. Whether planners or attendees are using an event app, a website for a professional speaker, or virtual streaming, he says that everyone wants information fast, with clarity, and available to them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

When selecting a technology partner, Wedesky says it’s important to always remember that “your message is the most important part of any meeting or event. You want creative professionals with the best technology helping you deliver your content to your attendees... IMS Technology Services treats every event as if it’s the largest most important event in the industry."

Using event technology can be intimidating for the novice, which is why it’s so important for planners to team up with knowledgeable and creative industry partners such as these who can guide them through this everchanging field and direct them in putting together the best possible events and meetings.

Collaborating on the technical aspects of an event with professionals from the industry helps to take the worry out of the process. Getting expert advice and direction from technology partners such as these will ensure that all runs smoothly and everyone involved enjoys an excellent AV experience.

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