Universal Live Talk 2018 Tech Trends

As the year draws into its final season we take a look at our top 10 event tech trend predictions for 2018. Recently we worked with our partners, QHotels, to deliver an informative session to the Event Profs Panel. The talk featured our technical predictions for next year, as well as a live demonstration from the real-time polling and Q&A app, Meetoo.

When discussing our top 10 technical trend predictions for the fast-approaching year, we considered the innermost working of technology, the risk and reward factor of using technology within a live event and how we can make it relevant in an ever-evolving industry – something which is regularly being asked by event organisers across the world.

Before moving on to 2018, here are a few technical facts from across the years that are worth recognising in terms of the advancements we’ve already seen to date. In 2004 Facebook, Bluetooth and Skype were born – today these are now key components that make up the meetings and events industry. Ten years ago the iPhone was launched, but the thought of using social media at an event to engage with the audience was unheard of. Five years ago the technology trends for 2012 was wearables and 3D printers. Finally, just two years ago in 2015, the Catchbox and crowd microphones were incorporated within the events industry to make for a more interactive environment.

Here are Universal Live’s 2018 event tech trends:

Engagement Apps

There are many event apps out there providing a range of industry services such as registration, agendas, and distribution of delegate and speaker information. Where we see growth in 2018 is the engagement app. An engagement app enables interaction between attendees or employees and organisers. It helps to test knowledge, provide insight, make meetings more effective and gives everyone a voice.

We work with Meetoo, well known in the industry for their live polling, Q&A and survey app. Meetoo’s app, and those of a similar nature are designed for maximum participation, allowing the users to have a voice. They focus on generating content and connecting thoughts, knowledge and opinion and allow for honest, uninhibited feedback due to the user being completely anonymous. Engagement apps do exactly what they say on the tin, they are easy and quick to use, and they are easily accessible creating a line of communication between the audience and speakers on stage. We demonstrated Meetoo’s app at the recent QHotels Event Profs Panel event, and upon witnessing the benefits, 90% of the group said they would consider switching to the engagement app from their standard event apps.

These apps can be draining on smartphones so remember to place wireless charging stations around the venue.


Projection Mapping

Projection mapping is a technology used to turn any surface, however irregularly shaped, into a display surface for video projection, such as buildings, cars, or even a person!

Whilst working with one of our event partners, Lodestar, we mapped a projection onto a Nissan Micra. The projected content was synchronised with a video of a street playing behind the Micra on our 3mm pitch hi-res LED wall. This coupling of technologies and use of animated imagery really brought the car to life, giving the impression it was moving through the space at high speed and making for a more exciting product launch than the norm (Ref: 1).

Moving into 2018, projection mapping will continue to grow as a go-to technology for event organisers seeking a creative and inexpensive way to transform a venue or 3D object into an engaging experience for their clients. It is perfect for any conference, product launch or grand opening, in fact, any event where the client would like to captivate their audience.

Live Streaming

This year we have seen a growing interest in live streaming during events and this can be handled in a number of ways. For example, a client may ask for a meeting at one office to be live streamed to multiple offices across the country, or they may ask that their conference or event be streamed to their social platforms, or to their offices around the world.

Live streaming helps maximise attendance by reaching those delegates that are unable to attend in person, services such as Facebook Live and Instagram Live make this even more accessible. 2018 will see the uptake of more interactive live streaming. Let’s take Facebook Live as an example; even attendees not physically present in the conference hall may be given the opportunity to vote in polls, voice their opinion on a certain subject or ask questions within a set period of time, much like their counterparts at the event using voting pads and live polling apps. Don’t get us wrong, we don’t expect this technology to fully replace a live event, but it will enhance it and open more doors for clients.


Twitter Feeds

Twitter and social media feeds are among the best ways to engage delegates with the content presented by the speaker(s). By simply setting up a hashtag for the event and sharing it with delegates it allows them to comment and share their thoughts before, during and after the event all in one place. This can be used to generate interest and publicity for the event, and even display a live feed of the tweets at the event. Other options are available that allow the feed to be moderated.

Holographic Images

We are still waiting for holographic images to clearly make their firm mark on the live events and conference industry, but we are predicting that within the next 12 months holograms will establish their place in the world of live events, based upon it being a captivating alternative to a standard screen stream to further engage delegates. Its capabilities are phenomenal – gone are the days where you could only project a still image and everyone had to wear 3D glasses. Holograms are now being used to truly involve delegates. The audience can watch presenters flick through large images, statistics and videos live on stage without any use of cumbersome 3D glasses.

The holographic projection techniques used mean that 3D holograms appear to float on stage with mesmerising depth, and holograms are now no longer restricted to still images. The development of broadcasting technologies combined with holographic technologies means that a speaker can be holographically projected in real-time, able to present their speech and take part in live Q&A sessions from anywhere in the world (these can also be pre-recorded). One top tip, ensure that your internet connection on both ends is sufficient to guarantee no breaks in connection.


Artificial Intelligence (AI)

So could the next big thing to hit the live events industry be Artificial Intelligence? AI is much more than just asking Siri ridiculous questions, AI is slowly but surely edging its way into our lives. The last decade has seen various robotic gadgets become mainstream and domestic, entering our homes with developments such as the robotic hoover and Amazon’s Alexa.

So how does this relate to the live events industry? Here at Universal Live we think Chatbots are likely candidates. They are becoming progressively more sophisticated enabling personalised conversations in either voice or text form and can be used in a variety of ways. For example, you may wish to create dedicated areas where attendees can access the bots to gain information such as which room the next content session will be or even to check-in. As this is a fairly new technology we are yet to sample its true potential, but AI has set itself up very well to further shock and surprise us with new and exciting ways to be used in 2018.

LED Walls

Like projection,  LED walls offer the perfect opportunity to showcase stunning moving displays, captivating content, live relays of your presenters on stage or even social media feeds into your conference or event. But what gives LED the upper hand when it comes to set design is its versatility.

We are asked on a daily basis, “How do we make the event stand out? How do we make it unique?” and the answer to that is to get creative with it. There is no rule to say that because LED panels are square you have to build a traditional shaped screen, instead, we can look at diamonds, squares or multiple blocks of screens. Curved panels are now available opening up even more possibilities. For example, the panels could be constructed into a 360° orbital and flown above the audience, or they could create a ripple effect. Experimental set designs, intertwined with stacked or flown LED will set any event apart from the rest, and most importantly collaborating with a creative AV supplier will ensure you get that WOW factor.


Virtual Reality (VR)

Virtual Reality (VR) and computer-generated simulations have recently seen a huge rise in popularity at experiential events, including those for big brands such as Topshop and Volvo. VR is also incredibly useful for venues to host virtual “show-arounds” to potential clients, reducing the need for site visits and therefore offering both cost-saving and environmental advantages. At Universal Live we believe that VR and its use in the live events industry will grow in popularity, with new developments in technology enabling users to experience increasingly immersive virtual environments, using sight, hearing, touch, balance and smell.

And whilst providing thousands of headsets to delegates at a large conference is impractical, we do predict that the technology will grow in popularity within smaller settings and that we must be prepared for this should the client find it relevant and a tool to enhance the experience of the delegates, rather than using it as an unnecessary feature technology.

Augmented Reality (AR)

Although Augmented Reality (AR) is often pigeonholed into the same category as VR, they are quite different technologies. Rather than the fully virtualised environments found in VR, AR creates a different experience for the user by superimposing a computer-generated image onto the user’s ‘real-world’ camera view in real-time and is most effective when viewed through a device with a gyroscope, such as a smartphone or a tablet. AR is proving so popular that modern devices are being designed with it in mind (Ref: 2).

AR can be used to showcase event information to attendees as they move around an event space. By holding the camera of their mobile devices up to pre-programmed trigger symbols, various event content and key speaker information can be displayed on the screen. This increases interactivity for the delegate and can be used for such things as driving footfall to exhibitor stands. We recommend keeping an eye out in 2018 for the evolution of AR and VR into a hybrid of the two, Mixed Reality (MR).


Wireless Technologies

Our clients want a quick and easy way to share information with their delegates. The ability to click and share information effortlessly without having to change wires, which can be time-consuming, from one device to another is essential for a smooth and seamless event. Products such as ClickShare and Smart Marker are highly sought after for meetings and events. They not only allow you to transition between different presenters’ presentations but also enable you to send the content from the event straight to the delegates’ personal devices.


2018 for the events industry and technology equals engagement, engagement, engagement! Clients want to engage with their audiences, creatively factoring in technology into an event can achieve this in a manner that you would not necessarily be able to accomplish with a blank stage and speaker. But do not overuse technology, be smart with your use of technology. Too much tech and you will overdo it, it will not feel relevant to the audience, and inevitably the over usage of technology will dilute the event message causing confusion amongst the delegates who will leave the event slightly bemused as to what the event message was intended to be. So be selective and if in doubt seek advice from a trusted AV supplier.

Download our infographic on top tech 2018


1: https://vimeo.com/204546703

2: https://www.imore.com/how-apple-tuned-iphone-x-augmented-reality