by Matt Alderton | December 18, 2015
Bartending robots, driverless cars, digital interpreters, physical telepresence, fog projectors, and Wi-Fi balloons are among the high-tech toys that meeting planners can expect to play with in the years ahead, according to the German Convention Bureau (GCB) and the European Association of Event Centres (EVVC), which yesterday published a joint "Future Meeting Space Innovation Catalog."

Compiled with the help of GCB's research partner, the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO, the catalog showcases 30 meetings-tech developments, narrowed down from 120 examples identified by Fraunhofer through its own R&D and through interactions with experts.

Items in the catalog are marked with one of two icons designating their stage of readiness for adoption: "Ambition" for items that are in the latter stages of R&D and will be available in the near future, and "Vision" for items that are highly conceptual and are not yet implementable for meetings. Highlights include:

• Community/Society: Trends include gamification, use of Instagram for InstaWalk virtual event tours, customized learning, innovation bootcamps, and matchmaking apps. Security is also mentioned in terms of both physical and data privacy and protection.

• Technology: Digital interpreters, 180-degree projection, and mist projectors that allow you to present information, images, and video mid-air are coming.  Physical telepresence or tangible media technologies that allow remote speakers to be seen, heard, and even move and demonstrate objects in the audience's separate location also are becoming possible.

• Mobility: Alternative mobility concepts and means of transportation like car sharing, zoomorphic robots, driverless cars, electric buses, and drones are explored to not only move people around, but also as materials used to build booths.

• Infrastructure: Ideas explored include LED virtual skies for meeting spaces, Wi-Fi balloons for remote locations, phase changing materials that create heating and cooling without using energy, cashless payments, and chip implants.

The catalog is part of GCB's Future Meeting Space initiative, a research effort announced earlier this year whose key goals include: gathering key trends, innovations, and developments in society, business, and technology; examining their influence and applicability to meetings; and delivering tangible tools and data to the industry.

"As a leader in the global meetings industry it is critical for us to continue to invest in research and initiatives that move our industry forward and provide fresh ideas," said GCB Managing Director Matthias Schultze. "We hope this unique study will prove to be a valuable resource for planners."


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