It’s been an exciting start to the year for technology! Even in the trade show world, we’re seeing dramatic increases in more sophisticated tech use during trade shows. However, these technological advancements aren’t just limited to shows: thousands of ideas, apps, and innovations are popping up to help exhibitors do their jobs more effectively and improve the attendees’ experience. Here are five meetings technology trends to watch for in 2018.

1. Chatbots that provide on-demand information for attendees.

AI-powered Chatbots (which are computer programs that conduct conversations via auditory or text methods) have gained quite a bit of traction in recent months. With the help of artificial intelligence (AI), these systems will become increasingly accurate in determining the sense and context of voice/text requests and responding in a human-like way.

However, the voice interface doesn’t work well in crowded, noisy environments such as trade shows and big events. After all, shouting orders into your phone on a noisy exhibit floor is not an ideal scenario! To combat this, text-based systems are starting to emerge as an excellent chatbot alternative to answer questions, gather feedback, and engage attendees at events.

2. Virtual reality used to enhance the attendees’ experience.

VR platforms such as Oculus Rift have already made a splash in the tech world, and now the trend is coming to trade shows. Virtual reality’s primary purpose will be to provide a more interactive experience to the end user (this year trade shows are all about crafting an enhanced experience for the attendee). VR assistants can address user’s questions, market a service, and even dissect a particular product in ways that would have been impossible only a handful of years ago.

VR booths are also able to catch the attention of someone passing by, a critical ability within an increasingly competitive marketplace. Attendees will remain engaged for longer periods of time and as a result, they are more likely to invest in your product or service.

3. Facial recognition systems for speedier processing.

Facial recognition software has kicked into high gear in the past few months and evolved into a practical solution that’s almost ready to be integrated everywhere – the fact that it’s the primary unlocking mechanism for Apple’s iPhone X has only bolstered its acceptance by the public. Registration vendors at trade shows are starting to use facial recognition software to print name badges (they did so at IMEX 2017), where attendees’ profile photos were used to quickly and securely identify them as soon as they arrived.

Other management platforms are beginning to use facial recognition for check-in, speeding up lines and boosting overall security.

4. Livestreaming from events and trade shows.

Though many myths have persisted about its continued relevance, live streaming is still a very viable way to boost your business and expand your audience beyond the trade show booth. You’ll be able to reach thousands of users who would otherwise be unable to watch your presentation or view your booth setup and design. Encourage attendees and staff to share your livestream with friends who couldn’t attend. They can invite people to join Facebook Live events and tweet links to their followers. Even staffers who aren’t physically attending an event can support from afar by sharing your stream.

The latest trend in livestreaming is crowdsourcing. Technology like Periscope and Facebook Live helps attendees broadcast their personal experiences easily. Define an event hashtag and encourage attendees who broadcast their experience to use it, so you can measure the results.

5. Event navigation via augmented reality (AR)

Over the years, there have been many attempts at indoor positioning systems (IPS) to help attendees navigate through meeting spaces and exhibit halls. Google Indoor Maps has been around for several years and is already available in thousands of buildings. Additionally, there are indoor mapping content management systems that make it easy for facilities to manage their Google Indoor Map. However, these apps’ accuracy isn’t sophisticated enough for booth- to-booth navigation in an exhibit hall – a key goal for many tradeshows and exhibitions.

Now, augmented reality (AR) will soon be added to the arsenal of indoor positioning methods. Typically, this is done via a mobile phone camera but eventually will become available in updated versions of AR glasses.

To learn more about other ways to make the most out of your trade show exhibition, visit our Trade Show Consulting or Trade Show Training pages.