Ahh, Trade shows, those crucial face-to-face events where you get packed together with thousands of strangers in miles and miles of unending booths. Sometimes your exhibit gets prime location, and sometimes you end up in Row JJ somewhere near the overpriced bland coffee stand. Either way, let’s face it–although the drinks, the people, and that VIP event with the 90’s metal band are fun, you invested heavily for that 40-foot-by-something booth and you need people to see you, connect with your brand, and have a buzzworthy experience that leads to deeper conversations. If you haven’t already, it’s time to explore digital trade show activations.

Here are 10 digital tools to help you do just that and provide real returns on your tradeshow experience.

#1 Virtual Reality – VR is head of the class right now for novel, earth shattering experiences. A one-of-a-kind branded trip into 3-dimensional cyberspace and a multisensory exploration of your brand will have them talking for weeks. People will seek you out to try the new tech and you’ll be ready to oblige them with your full brand narrative.

#2 Augmented Reality – If VR is head of the class, AR is the rising star pupil. Augmented Reality is where things are headed, and not in just some sort of Pokémon Go, Google Glass sort of way. Today’s technology maps the world around you and interacts with it. Objects stay where they are in space as you walk around them, robots burst through the walls and ceilings, car hoods are overlaid with x-rays of engines, and a rousing games of holo-chess pop up on any surface you choose.

AR lets people interact with products before they’ve ever been made.

Or, if you wish, Augmented reality can map features and images to your face. Users can look into a digital mirror and see themselves with a beard, as a strange a new creature, or how they might look in 30 years. Similarly users can look into a digital screen and witness themselves teleported to new places or interacting with people they may not ever actually meet.

#3 Projection Mapping – Projection Mapping instantly gives life to the lifeless. Statues come alive, walls burst open to reveal new worlds, and simple 3d objects become centerpieces. You can expect to see cell phones pop up as attendees record and share the enchanting digital experience.

#4 Touch – Touch screens allow users to turn learning and exploring about your brand into a tactile experience. Allowing users to manipulate information makes them an active participant in the brand message and turns a one-way conversation into a two way street. Touch screens have limitless ways to create informational narratives and can be a relatively cost efficient way to spice up your display.

#5 RFID and NFC – Both of these technologies deal with proximity chips. By providing guests with these technologies, you give them the ability to connect with your booth in a seamless and deeply customizable way. Load the chip up with some basic information and everything that person encounters suddenly form fits to a uniquely personalized experience. The narratives merge with their interests, and they are given insights particular to them. Each new space responds in a new way.

#6 Gesture – Nothing gets show attendees moving quite like gesture-based applications. Much like touch, it allows for two-way interaction, but does so in a way that gets blood moving to the body. This can really break people out of passive spectating to active participation. Gestures can also be gamified so that users become quarterbacks that throw footballs, rock stars that play air guitars that actually work, and pilots that fly planes using invisible joysticks.

#7: Holograms – Nothing brings ideas and products into the future quite like holograms do. You’ll feel like you are in a Star Wars movie where Obi-won Kenobi is your only hope. Hypnotic ghostly objects spin in 3-dimensions in front of your very eyes, people across the planet materialize to say hello, and entire city’s come alive in a tiny holographic chambers.

#8 LED – LED is messaging out-loud. These design-friendly screens succeed where projection mapping and lcd video screens fail. These bright powerhouses are immune to the effects of glare, the sun, or the brightest room. They are a must and anytime you want to make sure your content doesn’t get washed out. They are also completely customizable. That is to say, not only can you use them in any shape you want including spheres, but you can also program every tiny LED light to individually act however you’d like.

#9 GIF Booth – Much like photo booths at the amusement park, these booths are always a hit. Attendees get a customized and memorable branded souvenir of themselves at the event, which they are likely to share on social networks. Unlike photo booths, they allow for digital manipulation of backgrounds or added 3d elements in the foreground. They are delivered as a digital gif that cycles through the images like flipbook animation.

#10 Facial and Emotion Tracking – Emotion tracking can track emotions and expressions. Directing a person to make the biggest smile they can for a reward can be extremely rewarding for both you and for them. Facial tracking also tracks multiple areas of the face and allows for seamless facial overlays. You can overlay beards that move with mouths, apply digital facepaint, or emulate the latest snapchat lens.

Any of these will send a clear message and make a strong imprint on visitors to your booth, but don’t be afraid to mix and match these. Some of our favorite digital trade show activations have used multiple combinations of this list. If you have any questions about these or other emerging technologies, stop by our showroom and we’ll show you what they look like in person.

Visit our Portfolio to see this technology in action.

Alan Hughes, Founder and CCO: alan@nextnowagency.com

Next/Now Agency

1200 West Lake Street
Suite 2
Chicago, IL 60607

T: 312.945.6222
E: collaborate@nextnowagency.com