2016 Event-Related Technology: Keep An Eye Out


To kick-off the year, the “Super Bowl” of trade shows – the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) – made big waves. 200,000 attendees descended on Las Vegas to see more than 20,000 new products filling nearly 2.5 million net square feet of space. Here’s a glimpse at some of the most popular event-related technology from the show – and what these technologies might mean for experiential marketers in the coming months.

Virtual Reality

We’ve all been talking about virtual reality for several years, but now it’s really starting to heat up as an event-related technology. Major players like Google and Facebook have made huge investments in the technology. With Oculus Rift shipping in Q1 2016 and the low cost of Google Cardboard, many predict this is the year virtual reality will come into its own.

Sarah Hofstetter, chief executive officer of 360i, a digital ad firm, says affordable virtual reality and 360-degree video make it easier than ever to create immersive experiences. “Both will change the way we tell stories and create brand experiences for consumers.” She notes, “Products like Oculus, Panono and drone technologies open up new ways of seeing things, from product demonstrations to events to scripted stories. These technologies can deepen the connection between people and brands."


Watch for experiential marketers to incorporate more event-related technology like virtual reality and 360-degree content into their programs. As Richard Armstrong, founder of content marketing agency Kameleon says, “It will be interesting to see how the content and experiential disciplines begin to become more intertwined, owing to the extraordinary viewing and physical experiences that this technology can deliver.”

Sound-Based Tech

Heard of Amazon Echo yet? It’s a voice operating system that might become the home operating system of the future. You can tell Alexa (the device’s “wake-word”) to dim lights, play music, order a book from Amazon or play a movie on Amazon Prime. “Increasingly marketers will have to connect to Alexa,” says Rishad Tobaccowala, chief strategist at Publicis Groupe.


While Amazon Echo is currently for your home, expect to see the growing “Internet of Sound” phenomenon spread to events too. Keep an ear out to hear whether attendees use voice-activated experiences, brands deliver relevant engagement and notifications over inaudible sound waves – or both.

Vertical Video

Vertical video, smartphones held upright rather than sideways (think Snapchat style), has become a big buzzword in digital marketing. At CES, Ad Age reported companies like Twitter, Facebook and Yahoo brought vertical video to meetings. Some companies even flipped their monitors vertically to mirror how video is consumed on mobile phones.


With companies like Mashable and even YouTube latching onto this concept, it’s time for experiential marketers to take note too and shoot more content vertically. A good start will be to incorporate vertical video displays into your exhibit and event. After all, Mary Meeker , one of Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women and author of the annual Internet Trends reports, says “Vertical viewing now accounts for 29% of total time spend on mobile screens.”

Sensor-Based Technology

Wearables, smartwatches, beacons and smartphones all use sensors to detect or measure a physical property and record or respond to it in some way. These various sensors collect data – lots of it – which of course makes sensors appealing to marketers and brands. Ben Samuel, marketing technology director of PHD, says, “With the data that sensors can produce, there’s a real possibility that emotional response can be reliably inferred or even targetable in the future by using combinations of heart rate, temperature and skin changes.”

For example, with Project Jacquard Google is figuring out a way to weave conductive threads into fabric. The premise? Clothes and furniture are transformed into interactive surfaces.


While this particular sensor technology is in the very early stages, other forms of sensors could be used to measure and gauge crowd reactions at events. Expect to see more sensors used in live events as another form of measurement.

It’s easy to marvel at the innovation and ingenuity of new technologies like these. Just don’t get caught up in the hype. Select the right technologies for your event by focusing on how to use new event-related technology to foster audience engagement and communication.

Posted by Kristy Elisano | Request as a Speaker

Caffeine dependent Jersey girl. Inspired by creative risk takers and underdogs. Chief Marketing Officer, Doodle owner and lover of all things chocolate.