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Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Future of Trade Shows

Remember in the movie “Minority Report” when Tom Cruise walks through a shopping center and the kiosks and billboards instantly “recognize” him and dynamically change their content to meet his specific profile. We recently sat through a presentation on RFID that offered many of the same capabilities. Imagine, walking through a SEMICON show and the show signage and exhibitor displays sensed your presence and delivered you customized information based on your individual needs.

Fish Software, a provider of interactive marketing software used at trade shows and consumer events, uses an ultrawide-band real-time location system that can identify and track event attendees. The RFID tags are integrated into attendee badges. By reading these tags, sensors deployed throughout the trade show floor, and at the entrances to conference session rooms, can track the movements and locations of attendees. The system has an accuracy of less than four inches and can analyze and track the exact location of all tags every second. The data can be used to identify what booth an attendee visited, how long they stayed and what displays or presentations they spent time on. The system even has the ability to identify who they attendee met with by identifying the time spent in proximity to other RFID tags.

Of course, this kind of personal tracking intelligence comes with important privacy concerns. For ethical if not legal considerations, visitors would have to agree in some way to be tracked. Fish overcomes this potential barrier by giving the visitor extra show benefits in exchange for the enhanced information. They integrate “visitor intelligence” and “immersive media” to ensure that the attendee wearing a tag is delivered an enhanced experience that is more beneficial and relevant.

One way they do this is through interactive kiosks and digital sign networks that automatically recognize an attendee when engaged. When an attendee stands in front of a kiosk, a system will display the attendees name and allow the attendee to press a single button (on the touch-screen) to have information sent directly to his/her email address. Other features can include the ability to trigger relevant advertisements (based on interests expressed during the registration process), session information, messages, local attractions and more. Exhibitor displays can also include RFID sensors to customize product information to the visitor. With this solution, a show like SEMICON can offer much more visitor information to exhibitors and a more beneficial trade show experience to attendees.

Unfortunately, the concept hasn’t been deployed in a trade show the size of SEMICON and the applications, kiosks, and interactive media haven’t been developed for deployment. But it is a fascinating vision of where the future may be heading and definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Photo Credit: Wonder Wall: Realization of Interactive Wall in the Movie “Minority Report”
Nobuhiko Nishio, Koji Shuto, Kiyoto Tani, Takamichi Ishihara, Tomonori Morikawa
Ritsumeikan University

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