Disruptive technologies & the events spaces

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Written by
Hartmut Kulessa

European Marketing Manager – Panasonic Connect Europe

Collaboration and disruptive technologies at centre of the future of meeting spaces

What’s the future of meetings and events? At the heart of both spaces, individuals are encouraged to generate ideas and conversations, whilst shaping personal and business thinking. The future of meeting spaces, has interaction and exchange at the centre, complemented by practical application and the memory of a valuable experience. Innovation such as holographic technology, 3D projection, and collaborative spaces, are bound to become more utilised than ever before. But how do we prepare for this shift?

Panasonic is at the forefront of research and discussion about the ‘Future Meeting Space.’ The project by the German Convention Bureau, the European Association of Event Centres and the Fraunhofer Institute has conducted research to identify what are the technical and organisational requirements that create successful meetings, who are the different types of participants and how they are impacted by technology.

The aim of the project is to understand how meetings, conferences and events will be held in 5-10 years’ time, and which technologies will answer the needs of the future meeting space. This can include interaction forums using holographic projection, multisite conferences that utilise camera technologies and co-working conferences with interactive display technologies.

Digitalisation and interaction are two of the biggest needs that emerged from the research and should be supported through use of innovative technology. This might include large-scale projection and interactive walls to enable facilitators to connect, visualise and present in a way that attendees will find more engaging and memorable. Panasonic displays already enable more than one user to contribute at once, using multi-touch technology to allow several people to write on them simultaneously. Panasonic can create touch enabled large format displays using ShadowSense technology. It uses sensors to detect an object’s shadow and work out its exact location and is able to recognise a maximum of 20 different simultaneous touch points for larger video walls. The technology automatically detects and switches between input devices, such as a fingertip, stylus or eraser and is also able to identify and ignore accidental touches.

Interaction and use of digital technologies are further success factors that emerged from the research. The use of new and innovative formats and technologies were recommended as well as visualisation aids and interactive formats to foster knowledge transfer. Panasonic has recently introduced the ‘Scale-Up classroom’ which although originally designed for education can find a home in the future of meeting spaces too. Scale-up technology, developed with third party partners, uses laser projectors that can be edge blended to create a big front projection and multiple interactive displays mounted on working tables creating huddle spaces for small groups to work together Content can be sent from the smaller displays to the lead projectors to facilitate groups discussion and fully interactive, collaborative meetings.

The creation of a collaborative meeting environment is a clear trend emerging in the market. The report found that working together or “collaboration” is extremely important in the process of transferring knowledge. It is more sustainable to generate new knowledge together

by sharing information. Organisers of events should therefore not only promote interaction at the venue through appropriate formats and technologies but also share content online, making it accessible. This will enable them to lock on directly to changing learning and teaching behaviours. At Allied International Bank, we created a large corporate installation of over 500 Panasonic displays to construct ‘breakout’ spaces for informal meetings and delivered messages via digital signage. The AV installation led to a change in work culture at AIB, the need for constant email communication was reduced and a flexible workspace was created, so that staff could work together in both an informal and formal way. This technology can be used to benefit the meeting space of the future.

The need for networking also came out of the results from the report. Participants at events are working together more intensely and placing great value on the exchange of experience, knowledge and content, the personal interaction continues beyond the actual event, creating ongoing networks.

One of the other main takeaways from the research was that to satisfy attendees, “event planners should focus on knowledge transfer as well as surprising or disruptive elements that bring about a change, plus individually respond to the requirements of different attendee types.” Attendees are happy with events if they learned something new that they can apply in their everyday work and if events surprised them or triggered changes. It is also important to cater to the different attendee types and integrate all of them – be it analogue or tech-savvy, younger or older, quiet or extrovert.

Holographic presence was one of the technologies identified as an upcoming trend for meetings and events in the first stage of the research project for the future of meeting spaces. Last year, Panasonic projectors were used to create holographic projections at Imperial College in London. The speakers were able to engage with the students in real-time, responding to reactions and answering questions via a camera link as if they were in the same room. The system works by projecting a live image onto a glass screen, where an illusion of depth is then created using a backdrop, projector and monitor. It presents a whole new window of opportunities for education and business. To ensure a layer of interaction with the audience, the speakers were provided with a high-definition monitor in a remote studio, which was set up so that they could make eye contact and respond to individuals in the audience.

For event companies, this is a potential way to attract the best, most appropriate speakers to their events without needing to fly people around the world which, as well as being expensive, impinges on people’s time and is damaging to the environment. This type of technology in comparison to ‘peppers ghost hologram installations’ is low cost and therefore affordable for medium-sized organisations.

Holographic projection could help provide an interactive environment for conference calls and meetings, allowing global organisations to make cost savings by holding remote meetings without losing the human quality of having the real thing. Talks, seminars and calls can be attended by more people than would have been possible should the meeting have been held physically and attendees can be more involved and engaged than via a video link.

The future for meetings and event spaces will be more interactive and rely on technology that can provide an experience for attendees. As technology develops and becomes more polished we are likely to see collaboration techniques and holographic projection weaving their way into boardrooms up and down the globe.

Read more about how holographic projection can support collaboration

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