Payment handshakes and monitoring brainwaves: The future of conferences?

Payment handshakes and monitoring brainwaves: The future of conferences?

Airport-style body scanners, paying with handshakes and real-time brainwaves monitoring will become a familiar sight for event delegates and attendees in the future, according to new research.

Expert futurist Dr Ian Pearson led a workshop with QHotels’ Young Event Profs Panel to examine the key factors that will shape the conferences and events industry in the next five years.

The panel identified that changes in methods of travel, virtual reality and augmented reality, new ways of making payments and personal face-to-face relationships will be key trends impacting on event attendees in the coming years.

Members found that security will become significantly higher and data-driven at events, with a rise in facial-recognition software and retina and fingerprint scanning.

Travel to and from events is also expected to change, with anticipated improvements in public transport, driverless cars, a rise in the shared economy and dedicated event transport.

In terms of payments, the research found the contactless will continue to evolve while wearable technology will become more prominent along with a rise in the use of epidermal electronics such as skin chips and the potential of gesture-related payments like handshakes.

Real-time biometric monitoring is also expected to feature in the future, according to the panel. Monitoring of brainwaves and retina scanning could allow for instantaneous feedback to work out whether attendees are enjoying the experience and allow for changes to be made there and then.

The rise in these technologies, the panel concluded, could mean a reduction in the need for smaller meetings and training events. But they do not expect personal celebrations to be affected while work events will be more focussed on interpersonal skills rather than technical skills.

QHotels’ director of marketing Claire Rowland said: “Conferences and events have remained largely unchanged in their format for many years. Whilst a number of the trends we have identified are already beginning to influence the industry such as VR/AR and contactless payments, it’s fair to say that someone who was attending events 20 years ago would recognise the conferences of today.

“However, that is now likely to change within the next few years. New security measures will make registrations unrecognisable and the adoption of technology, which allows for real-time feedback, means that events can change and adapt as they are happening to create unique experiences for each attendee.

“The changes taking place are focused on providing better and more personal event experiences, but they require attendees to allow greater access to their personal information than ever before, which might be a concern for some. It’s important that venues and organisers are aware of these potential trends and work together to make sure attendees are aware of what they may mean.”

Dr Ian Pearson added: “We’re all used to technology playing an increasing role in our lives and, in most cases, we appreciate the greater convenience and security that it provides us, such as fingerprint scanning on mobile phones and banking apps. However, people might not be aware of what this technology is actually capable of.

“In looking at the conference and events industry we wanted to look beyond 2017 into some of the likely applications for technology, but also what effect that might have on the sort of events people would be attending or whether they would be attending events at all. There will always be a need for people to gather together, but the reasons for being there and how they get there look like they could change significantly.”

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