Event Tech 2015: Drones, Beacons and VR headsets

Four event planners share their tips on what will be the hottest technology for events in 2015.

Oculus Rift and Samsung's VR headset are set to be the most popular event tech in 2015
Oculus Rift and Samsung's VR headset are set to be the most popular event tech in 2015


Suggested by: Sledge’s director of production Adam Serle

In responding to a recent client brief for an inventive and creative opening ceremony for 60,000 spectators, one of the ideas we developed was the use of drones in the night sky above the audience. The AR Drone of old was controlled via a tablet or phone via wireless. However these early drones were difficult to control and could not be adapted for alternative uses.

The Drones Sledge will be using are controlled via a combination of wireless, RFID and GPS. When combining these three technologies we can receive HD quality pictures, programme the drones to fly to exact locations and be able to pick up and fly carrying a load.

Sledge are planning on making use of this new technique by using 60 drones within a carefully choreographed opening ceremony incorporating smoke, lights and pyro within the drones. We are also planning on using the drones within one of the protocol sections of the ceremony when delivering the national flag.

Drones allow cameras to go places and in a way that has not been possible before. These cameras will give the events industry an innovative way to add a unique perspective to any filmed content and create cascade material that will be truly memorable. 

Virtual reality headsets: Samsung Gear VR

Suggested by: Smyle’s creative director Matt Margetson

The Samsung Gear VR brings a new dimension to video, making it easy and affordable for everyone to experience Virtual Reality. It combines a headset shell and uses the Samsung Note 4 phone as the internal screen making it a far more affordable option, below any of its competitors, with a price point forecast to be around £200.

The result provides the opportunity for this to be a mass market product and therefore obtain a higher adoption rate. In turn this creates a commercially viable environment for developers to provide a diverse range of applications to fit.

The opportunity for the events industry is huge with virtual experiences being able to be more authentic, compelling and powerful.

Imagine being in the comfort of your armchair at home and with the Gear VR, being able to see the journey of your favourite band, from dressing room to stage, all through the eyes of the lead singer. The experience is all in 3D and you can choose to look in whichever direction you like.

Alternatively, for sports fans, they can get a view of their favourite football team playing through the eyes of the referee. These are obvious solutions, but in the future there are far more alternatives for the events industry, both in personalised audience experiences and enhanced solutions to help with the pre-event comms and delivery.

Imagine a virtual walk around a hotel where you can literally see every part of the venue or hotel, all this without catching the flight. Now include the client in this virtual meeting at the same hotel or venue, joining them for a walk around. The client could then see the creative solution applied in true VR across the venue.

There are huge possibilities for this technology for both enhancing the client experience pre-event and the live experience for the audience. However, a word of warning, this technology should only be utilised where it enhances the key objectives of the client and the effectiveness of content delivery to the target audience.


Suggested by: William Thomson, event consultant of Gallus Events and curator of Tech Fest

The idea that your phone can whizz away downloading information and telling interested parties about you while you walk around an event is a very interesting proposition. This should allow you to concentrate on doing the things you are there to do like learn, network and enjoy the experience. 

From an organiser’s perspective, Beacons have many useful applications. From reducing the lines at registration, to removing paper from exhibitors – they are multi-functional. Many of these benefits are shared with attendees and when you have a technology that benefits the organiser and the attendee you are very likely to see a good level of take up. 

Cloud-based Event Apps

Suggested by: Strategy director Lawrence Alexander of VISTA (formerly Logistik)

In 2013, iPhone accounted for only 13% of all phones. Android, Blackberry, Windows and feature-phones making up the other 87%. Last year we saw the launch of an Amazon phone and a Firefox phone. The size of the iPhone-only audience is shrinking. Despite this, I’m still seeing many events organisers invest in iPhone apps or other native technology. While the web grows more social, the event industry is still innovating in a way that excludes people.

The few companies doing things differently are investing in mobile web applications. Also known as cloud-based apps, these sit on the internet (instead of an app store), which means anyone can use them to do things like interact, post comments, upload selfies and download exclusive content, no matter what phone they use.

This is a relatively new approach so we’ve built our own cloud-based event app called Event Companion. It does all the fun interactive stuff, but because it sits on the web it’s available to value and premium phones users alike. So far we’ve had feedback from forward-looking companies like BMW, Unilever and TalkTalk who have all given it a huge thumbs-up, so expect to see more cloud-based apps popping up in 2015.

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