It’s All in the Wrist

Apple Watch

Photo Credit: (Reuters/Stephen Lam)

All everyone has been talking about lately is Apple’s new interactive Watch coming out early 2015. And, of course, they didn’t just make one watch. That would’ve been too simple. Instead, they made three watches: Apple Watch, Apple Sport and Apple Watch Edition. For the person who doesn’t mind wearing something on their wrist, the Apple Watch might be perfect for you.

The 38mm – 44 mm watch with retina display does almost anything imaginable. In addition to it being able to answer calls, check emails, listen to music, see photos and give directions; it also has quite a few attractive highlights.

Some Highlights

  • Sending texts with words is not the only option. You can sketch your message and your friend on the other end can watch it animate.
  • With Passbook, you can store your credit and debit cards, boarding passes and tickets – and even use your Apple Watch to pay at participating stores.
  • Apple found a way to give technology “a more human touch.” Whenever you receive an alert or notification, you will feel a tactile (but subtle) sensation.
  • You can visually see your heartbeat and actually send it to someone to show them how you feel.
  • For fitness fanatics, tracking steps, calories and your heart rate is just the start; a “Stand ring” tracks how often you’ve stood and  reminds you to move around a bit.
  • Using additional app software, you can control the temperature in your home and turn your lights on and off.

So how can we leverage the technology Apple has created into our live events? Once app developers get their hands on this, it’s only a matter of time until new apps will be created to enhance the Apple Watch experience even more: networking, gamification, data gathering and even gesture technology.

How will you use it?

If This, Then That – Say What?

IFTTT

Have you heard of IFTTT? No, we didn’t fall asleep on our keyboard… it’s an app that connects two apps or services into a personalized recipe of delight.

For example, let’s say you want to remind yourself to take out the trash on Thursday night. An average Joe would just put a reminder in his phone with a two-chime alert. But extraordinary Joe takes his app and programs it so that if it’s Thursday at 7PM, the lightbulbs in his house will start flashing red in every room to remind him that it’s time to take the garbage out. Now granted, extraordinary Joe has WiFi programmable lightbulbs, but this example goes to show just how extensive the app can get with what you want it to do.

And if you need help coming up with your own recipes, IFTTT has a list for you to use and become inspired by its capabilities

 

Times They are A-Changin’

Recently, Facebook has had to make some interesting choices – notably, to limit unpaid brand presence on their ever-more popular newsfeed. It makes sense. According to a study by Ogilvy, organic reach has dropped for branded Facebook pages by nearly 50%. The newsfeed is prime real estate; on some level, it’s a simple question of supply and demand, providing people with what they want (and will respond to).

So what does this mean for corporations in the social world? Immediately, it translates to dollars: companies that want to keep a first-row seat on Facebook will need to shift their use of the social platform to a paid presence.

But step back for a moment. The implication of this shift is not entirely unique to Facebook – lots of social media outlets are becoming multipurpose channels and searching for ways to boost revenue. So the questions that marketers face are fundamental and should help define any social media strategy:

Where do you need to be to reach your audience?
As Facebook, Instagram and Twitter offer more and more services, they become similar; but new kids on the block like Snapchat may be best for your target if you’re trying to create viral buzz for a video-savvy audience. As many of the bigger sites move toward a Pinterest-like page design, take a look at sites with a fresher look – or at least different – look. Take a look at Google+, or check out the MySpace makeover… it may be time to revisit it. But the hard line remains: pick the channel best suited to your audience and put your dollars there. 

How important is the creative in that equation?
Formerly, social media sites had distinct functions. Chatting. Photography. Video. So on and so on. And the creative approach was designed to suit the site. Now, though, the homogeny of capabilities brings these sites closer together, and it’s easy to apply the same creative across the board – or even skimp on it, in the face of rising costs. So ask yourself: do you simply need to show up at this party, or do you need to wear an unforgettable dress? Establish these priorities before you begin, to get the most out of your marketing budget.

How the Cookie Crumbles

3D printing has been around for years, and, as with all technologies, it’s improving as we speak. At SXSW, though, Oreo teamed up with Mondelez International to demonstrate a curious new frontier for the next gen printing technology: edible delights. The experience tracked topics that were trending online and interpreted them into filling flavors, so that visitors could witness a marvel of technology – and eat it too. Pursuits and skeptics may scoff at the idea of a custom-printed cookie, but on-the-ground reports said that the taste was almost identical to a bonafide, garden-variety Oreo. The only real difference was in texture – the original snack is a bit sturdier than its 3D-generated counterpart, which tended to crumble.

With this level of advancement, 3D printing could start to play bigger role in our lives. Could 3D printing form a part of your next event, as a unique experience and a peep hole into the future of innovation? 

That’s a wrap!

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but the shortest distance to a “wow” factor defies that rule. Enter flexible LED. Flexible LED is a fairly new player in display technology, but the hundreds –  maybe thousands? – of applications are evident almost immediately. It’s your regular old LED screen, shaken and not stirred – it can curve and mold to cover almost any surface you can think of.

Tradeshow booth? Existing columns in a ballroom?  Check. Walkway to a General Session? Check. Flexible LED let’s you rethink how you present custom, digital content… and even how your audience can interact with it.

How could flexible LED make a splash at your next event?

Driving It Home

There’s so much talk about the value that social media provides in both the B2C and, more recently, the B2B space. But what about the benefit that comes from the connections enabled by social media internally?

In every business, regardless of industry or size, we know the value of listening, understanding and dissecting collaboration between peers. Unless we figure out ways in which we can formulate and define how these social tools translate into an effective, powerful corporate communications strategy, its value and return on investment will remain unknown and companies will fail to succeed in the modern day workplace. Social media tools have elevated the standard, depth and expectation of corporate communications. Companies are quickly being forced to transition from simply using the intranet as a file-sharing portal to using it as a valuable resource that also leverages and supports three-way conversations. 

Surprisingly, many corporate intranets are still owned by executives. In today’s world, we have the opportunity to create more democratic and personalized platforms, where employees exchange, share and own the dialogue. This dialogue ignites a sharing of ideas, opinions and personal conversation. I love the idea that social media tools enable a conversation of many, rather than one. It’s not just you and I anymore, but an increasingly robust conversation where diversity of opinion is encouraged. Employees now have the opportunity to be engaged, enthusiastic and actually excited about what they do.

I’m not sure that there has ever been a more opportune time to start engaging our most valuable asset, our employees, and consider how we leverage that collaboration to drive the organization forward.

What strategies and tools are you using that enable conversations to drive employee engagement and participation? If you are one of those companies who has thought about evolving your conversational strategy, what’s holding you back?

Nicole Bojic, Senior Digital Strategist, InVision Communications

Let’s Get Digital, Digital

Are business cards becoming a thing of the past? As we become more digital (and more eco-conscious) anything that doesn’t have a computer chip starts to seem pretty ancient. Take business cards for instance. When most of us attend a conference, we load our wallets and purses with business cards with a hopeful goal of receiving a business card in return. That’s how we network, yes? But times are changing…future generations are likely scrolling through their phones to find an app for that instead of the inconvenience of carrying around a bunch of cards.

At the FutureStack conference in San Francisco, analytics company New Relic lightened the wallet load by handing attendees computerized name badges that swaps data when two badges are “bumped.” Sounds easy… and fun! Attendees can later access the contact information they’ve collected with a conference-specific app.

But wait, there’s more! It also allows New Relic to uncover data about their attendees they otherwise might not be able to get. For example, they can collect location data and find “correlations between session attendance and things like weather or coffee consumption.”

Back to the Future

To draw tourists to Melbourne, Australia, developed a unusual interactive advertising campaign.

Four people had cameras strapped to their heads. Their video footage live-streamed on a site where viewers were able to “control the tourists” – basically, tell them what sights to see and what to do in Melbourne. This clever way of advertising drew in an amazing 8,726 requests!

Now imagine how we might be able utilize this type of technology at our events… for attendees who aren’t able to attend the event live, they can watch virtually from their computer and have access to these “roaming reporters” at the event. Attendees can dictate what they want the reporter to see, hear and experience as if they were there themselves. It’s a fantastic way to keep the online experience engaging.

What do you think?

Tech Trends in 2014

Source Credits: Dan Hanover, Event Marketing Institute
Photo Credit

90% of event marketers will increase their use of technology in 2014, all the while becoming smarter about how technology can be applied to bring real value to events.

So what exactly does “smarter” mean? Here are just a few key takeaways:

Social Currency
In our world, the keyboard is mightier than the sword. Social participation and online engagement have monetary value: it’s essential that we understand the literal value of each tweet, Facebook “like” and YouTube comment…

The focus for next year is not only getting our audiences to talk about us, but how we motivate and reward them to do so in meaningful and purposeful ways.

Going from “Like” to Love
How do we transform our audiences from passive attendees to active participants? We’ve spent years attempting to get audiences to “like” their experiences, understand the content, etc. The focus in 2014 is getting them to share, do and practice what’ve they’ve experienced.

How do we focus on the “lovers,” creating truly special and unique and experiences designed exclusively for them?

The Second Screen
Audiences today are looking at their tablets, phones and computers… all at once. 2014 will be all about catering to audiences by utilizing these platforms in new and different ways that pull them in and drive deeper engagement.

Niche Social Media
Understand your audience. Which platforms are they using? What are they reading? What content are they absorbing? What are their likes and dislikes?

It’s no longer just about the go-to social networks (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube)… it’s about what works. More and more niche social media outlets will pop up, and the job of Event Marketers will be in understanding which one to use… and when.

Personalizing the Experience
How do we enable attendees to design their own experiences? Technology may make it easier for them to set their preferences, but it will be up to Event Marketers to determine how those insights are used to drive a more engaging live experience for attendees.

Technology for a Reason
Always ask yourself: Is technology really necessary? What’s the reason? If it doesn’t help, don’t use it.

What tech trends will you be focusing on in 2014?

Nicole Bojic, Senior Digital Strategist, InVision Communications

Reflection Mapping is the New Kid on the Block

No doubt that you have heard of projection mapping, but have you seen or heard about the latest, coolest technology called reflection mapping? Innovative technology experts V Squared Labs created this stunning technology that uses mirrors, light and sculptural form to create dramatic staging effects.  The symphony of technology results in such a visually thrilling sight, it’s hard to look away. In this video, the studio worked with music group Krewella to create the stage set. You don’t want to miss it!