Archive for October, 2011

7 out of 12 Meetings Technology Trends to Watch for 2012: Near Field Communication (NFC) continues to move into the meetings arena

October 26, 2011

This is the seventh in a series of 12 weekly blog postings covering the major technology trends affecting conferences, events and trade shows

7.  Near Field Communication (NFC) continues to move into the meetings arena

NFC provides simplified wireless data exchange and transactions using mobile devices in close proximity to each other, usually no more a few centimeters apart. It is expected to become a widely used system for making payments by smartphone in the U.S.

The applications for events are significant allowing for very fast, secure and simplified means of:

  • Electronic ticketing
  • Electronic business card exchange
  • Credit card payment
  • Easy pick up of conference literature, exhibit brochures, course notes, and other digital documents

NFC has been used in Europe for the past few years (I have personally seen people paying for packing meters and tram rides in Estonia simply by tapping their phone to the transaction device).  ITN International ( has successfully used NFC at events for some time including contact exchange, e-ticketing, and micropayments.

There are also companies such as using NFC to provide many of these features with a small, inexpensive (US$18), NFC-enabled “pokenTAG” that is worn around the neck and glows green when information is exchanged. 

The game changer, however, will be when NFC becomes commonly available in mobile phones. Blackberry’s three new Curve models are NFC-enabled as are dozens of Android phones and many Nokia phones. The tipping point, however, may be if the soon-to-be-released iPhone5 will offer NFC.  Whether it is this year, or next, NFC will provide much better and faster data exchange, ticketing and micropayment options for events.


Corbin Ball, CMP, CSP is an independent 3rd-party analyst focusing on meetings and tradeshow technology. With 20 years of experience running international citywide technology meetings and shows, he now helps clients worldwide use technology to save time and improve productivity He can be contacted at his extensive web site: and followed on

Six out of Twelve Technology Trends to Watch for 2012: Hybrid meetings will extend the reach and broaden the impact of face-to-face events.

October 18, 2011

This is the sixth in a series of 12 weekly blog postings covering the major technology trends affecting conferences, events and trade shows:

6. Hybrid meetings will extend the reach and broaden the impact of face-to-face events.

A hybrid meeting is an event that combines both face-to-face and virtual experience for local and remote attendees. It will become commonplace for many events in the next few years. Meeting professionals are recognizing that it has become much easier to extend the impact of an event beyond the four walls of the meeting room. A hybrid event can multiply the event’s impact and can recruit new attendees for future events.

Live steaming sites such as provide easy methods to stream conference video to remote attendees with a range of pricing plans from free to enterprise level. Increasingly, interactive tools such as polling and remote Q&A will engage the remote participants. using event hashtags is currently being used to allow remote attendees to comment and ask questions during a presentation as well. can connect HD video signal from four locations for free. The HD option allows events to bring in remote speakers or groups in high enough quality to project on a large screen in a meeting room.

Google Hangouts ( is a great free, new option for events allowing video from up to ten locations to be seen on each screen in a reliable and relatively low-bandwidth format.  Event Camp Europe ( has recently used Hangouts to have a “Hybrid Wine Tasting” connecting face-to-face groups from four cities in Europe. The wine was shipped to the four cities, poured and distributed, the wine was introduced and described, attendees held the wines, smelled the bouquets, and tasted them. All five senses were engaged simultaneously in multiple locations!

Five out of Twelve Technology Trends to Watch for 2012: Conference recording and distribution is becoming cheaper, faster and much more capable.

October 12, 2011

This is the fifth in a series of 12 weekly blog postings covering the major technology trends affecting conferences, events and trade shows.

Conference recording and distribution is becoming cheaper, faster and much more capable.

Conference recording has been around for decades starting in the days that audio-cassettes of the presentations were mass-produced onsite and sold in the foyer. Recent technology advances have made it possible to quickly and relatively inexpensively distribute speaker video, audio and visuals over the web in real-time and on demand afterwards.

This technology to do this was simply not there just a few years ago. The price of high-definition video cameras has plummeted (we are even carrying them around as mobile phone feature). Accessibility to reliable broadband is as available for most meeting facilities and the price is dropping. Video streaming encoders are turn-key. Presentation management software has proliferated.

For example, the “video recording and webcasting studio in a box” pictured below is the Roland Systems Group ( VR-5 incorporating a 5-channel video switcher, audio mixer, video playback, recorder, preview monitors and output for web streaming. What previously would have required crates of equipment and $100,000+ has been shrunk into a 9 pound (4.3kg).box for under US$5,000 greatly simplifying the production, recording and streaming of live events.

Using these smaller, cheaper, and faster tools, it is now possible for conference recording companies to record video/audio and slides for dozens of simultaneous presentations and have them available for sale or distribution on the web that evening. Streaming technology for real-time distribution is also easier and simpler than in the past. Some of the companies providing these services are: Content Management Corporation,  Freeman, OmniPress, PSAV Presentation Services, Sonic Foundry, Digitell and Soma Media

More information and details on the benefits for conference recording can be found at the following article:

Four out of Twelve Technology Trends to Watch for 2012: HTML5 will become the standard for many event mobile applications.

October 6, 2011

This is the fourth in a series of 12 weekly blog postings covering the major technology trends affecting conferences, events and trade shows.

HTML5 will become the standard for many event mobile applications.

Although I like the customized look and feel of native mobile apps built specifically for iPhones, iPads, Android, Blackberry, and Windows 7 phones, there are problems:

  • Building customized native apps for each phone is substantially more expensive and requires much more programming expertise than the building a single web app that can be viewed by all smart phones.
  • Sometimes the apps don’t work – especially for the Android operating system which has hundreds of phone models with different screen sizes and processor speeds. The low-end “free” android phones simply do not have the power to run some apps.
  • It takes time and money to get the native apps approved through the various apps stores. For example, the iPhone/iPad store usually takes up to a month for approval and costs a least $99. Substantial last-minute changes simply can’t be done.

HTML5 (HTML Version 5) is the latest version of the Hypertext Markup Language, the standard programming language for describing the contents and appearances of web pages. It provides many benefits for mobile app development over native apps or previous versions of HTML:

  • It is much less expensive than native app development. The language itself is simpler and programmers don’t have to worry about building and customizing the app for all the specific mobile operating systems.
  • Unlike previous versions of mobile web, users can download the web pages to the phone. — it does not require continuous access to the internet for it to work. It will give a much closer “native app” experience the previous mobile web versions.
  • HTML5 supports geo-location so that users can access mobile websites that access their position (a benefit that formerly was restricted only to native apps).
  • It will work across all modern smart phones by simply launching the web browser.
  • It does not require approval through the app stores, saving money, but, more importantly, saving time. Changes to the app can be done on the fly substantially reducing development time and allowing much greater flexibility.

There are limitations with HTML5, however. Scrolling through large amounts of data (such as hundreds of names on an attendee list) will require either a native app or internet access using HTML5. Large, complex meetings will usually require native apps. They HTML5 pages also tend to look more basic in appearance and navigation.

Despite these limitations, the move to HTML5 will drive down the cost and development time while increasing the flexibility for mobile app development for events. It will also make the do-it-yourself model easier to provide as well.