Every day the Rebel team scour the internet, plough through our mailboxes and visit events in our neverending search for the latest trends in event-tech. Some of the gems we find go on to become big hits, others fade into oblivion. I thought it would be a good idea to share some of the cooler stuff we stumble upon with you. From now on I will post a monthly update on some of the coolest, weirdest, most functional, fun-but-totally-useless and quirky event-tech the Rebel and Soul team has spotted.  

1. Holoportation

By far the best demo this month comes from Microsoft HQ in Redmond. I’ve had my eye on their Hololens (click for more info) for a while but I felt that at 3000 US dollar a pop this tech will prove to be a tough sell for the masses. Brands will have the budgets, however, to be able to invest in the tech and the content, placing them at live sporting events to add another dimension for spectators. Cool, but Microsoft is moving into a soon to be crowded space here and have nothing specific that makes them stand out. 

That is until they dropped this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7d59O6cfaM0

And all of a sudden it becomes clear what vision Microsoft has for this technology. This is not just about adding a little spice to sporting matches - in the long term this is about connecting people in everyday life. Not only is this holo-line super attractive for business travelers that want to stay in touch with their families (I can see hotel chains making this part of their upscale packages) but it also opens up huge opportunities for the event industry. The ability to place anyone on any stage at any time is super exciting. And it doesn’t even have to be live - that playback function, Minority Report-scary as it may be, is key here.

For the been-there-done-that crowd that is about to cite 2PAC’s hologram performance at Coachella in 2012: keep in mind that that was 2D and consisted of a projection on an angled piece of glass. How far we’ve come in just four years...

2. Big Data at events

This, on Mashable earlier this week, was a pretty decent gateway-article for the experiential industry:


 It uses an outdated but nice case study of an experiment done at Cannes last year where they gave a bunch of visitors a smartwatch and tracked their movements and heart rates and made a presentation on the collected data just a couple of hours later. That was just the beginning of a trend that I do see getting bigger and bigger this year. As we speak we’re pitching for an event where we use RFID tags for registration with dual links to email and social media profiles. These tags can be used by visitors to activate elements of the event and to receive more information about products, but only when they want it. It allows us, the organisers, to track individuals’ movements in the event space - not just for crowd control, but also to see in real time which event elements work and which don’t. It generates data about what people liked and where we lost them. It gives us an invaluable hook to follow up with people with relevant information and to convert interest into sales. The tech may not be new but it’s getting more and more sophisticated and more importantly for the event organisers, stable and cost competitive to build  - so no need to go all Oprah Winfrey with expensive Apple watches - which our client appreciated.

 3 Robotics

 Finally this month saw some cool developments in Robotics and AI that I can see having a big influence on the event industry as well. The industry got a huge boost when AlphaGo - Google’s AI computing system - kicked a human’s ass at Go. (My favorite detail there is that AlphaGo’s “intuition hindbrain’ is so strong  it can beat other Go programs without even using its “counting brain”)

A week later Microsoft’s attempt at AI brought us all back to earth after it released a chatbot that turned racist in just a couple of days (great headline-alert for that last link).

The event industry goes through similar highs and low’s. On the one hand we have Softbank which created a robot that can spice up any event as a greeter or a door-bot - effectively making the door-bitch a dying profession. On the other hand I dare you to google “cocktail robot”. What comes up is a hideous Margarita-Ville inspired machine that, at best, resembles the tea maker in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

We have a long way to go - but we’ll get there. More event-tech trends in April.