I rarely watch live award shows. It’s not that I don’t like them, they just aren’t something I get excited over. The morning after the 2014 Billboard Music Awards, however, I found myself searching the internet for a video that was making headlines all over the world. I quickly found the clip that had everyone talking, and was amazed to see Michael Jackson (who had passed away nearly five years prior) performing “live” via hologram for a stunned crowd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. I was intrigued, entertained, and honestly, a little unnerved. The stunt received a varied mix of reviews that ran the gamut from awe and excitement to repulsion. Fast forward two years later, however, and companies are now using holographic technology to elicit nothing but the most positive reactions to their innovative business practices.
In an exciting development last week, Accenture CEO Pierre Nanterme had his holographic image beamed live from Paris (where he was physically located) to a 500-employee meeting in Chicago. The move followed in the footsteps of several other similar live presentations. What might these innovations mean for professionals in the expo and conference industry? As the technology grows and becomes more accessible to small and medium-sized businesses and conferences, the entire landscape of live teleconferencing will change for the better. The most likely and obvious effect will include a higher level of access in terms of booking major presenters for conferences and expos than event organizers have ever known.
Better Access to Exciting Presenters at Expos
From technology to weddings, expos exist for every industry. At wedding expos – for example – dress shops, cake makers, florists, and others fill a large warehouse-style meeting space and exhibit their offerings to brides- and grooms-to-be. As 3D holographic technology (also known as live telepresence) becomes more accessible, brands and retailers will attend expos via hologram from anywhere in the world and showcase their wares without having to be physically present. This will enable brands to widen their expo reach without high travel costs, and will also provide expo attendees with a significantly larger array of choices and attractions.
Live telepresence technology will also render weather conditions a non-issue for events. Imagine a dress designer in New York is planning to fly to Los Angeles for a huge bridal expo. She has handpicked some of her latest and most favored designs, prepared the garments for travel, and is just getting ready to book her flight when she is informed that an NYC snowstorm has halted all air travel. Typically, this would result in a catastrophic level of ruined plans and the loss of countless new customers. Utilizing holographic video conferencing technology, the designer can offer her full presentation to attendees remotely without missing a beat. No one will miss out on viewing her wares, and event managers won’t be short a valued presenter.
Celebrity Speakers May Grace Even Small Conferences
The effect of holographic video technology on the professional conference field will likely follow a very similar trajectory. Retreat and conference organizers often invite celebrities and industry game-changers to speak at their events. The increasing accessibility of live telepresence tools will lead to the availability of intriguing hosts and guest speakers. For instance, actress Drew Barrymore is heavily involved with the foundation Adopt-a-Pet and was recently honored by the ASPCA for her work with animal rescue. Being an extremely busy woman, it might be difficult for her to physically attend various animal lovers’ retreats and conferences, but crowds would be ecstatic to be hosted by her live holographic image on stage. The same goes for professional conferences on finance and business. Universally available holographic technology at conferences could enable CEOs of industry giants such as Apple, Samsung, and Forbes to speak at events large and small without ever having to travel.
Access to more exciting presenters, regardless of weather conditions, travel costs, or physical availability, means event organizers can put on far better higher quality expos and conferences that will draw larger crowds due to the a greater variety of hosts and participants. This will enable conference management professionals to build stellar industry reputations, grow their own brands, boost profitability, build better relationships with more presenters, and expand their reach within the events industry worldwide.
Is Holographic Technology at Conferences or Expos Feasible Today?
There are several companies that offer various types of holographic projectors for specific needs. For example, the Stereoscape Dreamoc HD3 enables users to project 3D images of physical products. This type of technology is often used to present new products at tradeshows and expos. The cost for this type of setup is around $2,000.
To project live, real-time, interactive images of people via an advanced platform such as Musion – users pay anywhere from $10,000 to $62,000 depending on their presentation and configuration needs.
As live telepresence technology advances and more companies jump on board with innovations and offerings in the field, the price could drop significantly – as is typically the case with emerging technology. For example, when the very first iPhone hit the market back in 2007, the price started at $499 even with a 2-year wireless contract. Today, customers can get an iPhone through virtually any carrier, and new customers will pay anywhere from $0 to $99 for a basic model. This same trend will likely kick in within the field of holographic teleconferencing, making it accessible to companies of all types and sizes, and transforming the world of expos and professional conferences.
Image source: Flickr CC user J.K. Califf