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October 16, 2014

Middle East: The Age of Instant Feedback is Here

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A new Google Glass-based application is changing the way conference organisers approach live events by allowing greater audience participation and instant feedback, explains developer Peter Komornik, CEO of sli.do

What is your company’s background or experience in the meetings and events sector? What services, products or technology do you currently provide clients? 
Peter Komornik: The beginnings of sli.do date back to 2012 when we were working on a project that sought to improve teaching methods in Slovakia. Realising that lecturers firstly need to know both what they do well and where they fall behind, the idea that naturally emerged was to come up with an effective technical tool to obtain instant feedback from students. 

After winning two start-up competitions in Bratislava and Vienna, sli.do quickly began to gain traction and we started focusing on conference organisers who require instant feedback from their audiences. Listening carefully to observations from our first clients, we implemented new features and elevated sli.do to the audience interaction platform that transforms live events by giving a voice to the audiences. sli.do now democratises Q&A sessions by allowing everyone to ask questions and vote for the ones they consider the most relevant. 
Since our foundation in 2012, we’ve helped transform over 700 events and have been used by high-profile companies such as Google, KPMG, SAP, IDC, Oracle and Fleming in over 50 countries all over the world. 

Why does Google Glass appeal to you so much? Are you believers in its revolutionary potential, or are you simply reacting to the product and wanting to find out if there’s an appetite for it? 
PK: I think it’s a bit of all of the above. Google Glass is, without doubt, a revolutionary product with an incredible potential that will, most probably, have a major impact on a wide range of industries including the events industry. In this sense, we’re believers and evangelists of its abilities to make our lives easier and more connected. 

Technology needs to be easy to use, simple and intuitive to find its spot in people’s lives. Google Glass fulfills all three conditions. Abraham Lincoln said the best way to predict the future is to create it. Google did, but we’re curious to know the public is ready for it. 

Have you been able to incorporate the product into any of the services you offer clients yet? 
PK: We have developed the first Google Glass app for moderators, which is an extension of the sli.do application. Moderators can use the Google Glass app to see the latest as well as most popular questions from the audience and easily integrate them into the discussion. The most recent event it was used in was the World Meetings Forum in Mexico. 

In all your workshops/conversations at IMEX and other shows, what is the key potential benefit of using Google Glass that event pros pick out? And what is the key negative? 
PK: People truly enjoying talking about the potential of the Google Glass but, out of many, I’d like to pinpoint three key benefits: 
• Moderation: Google Glass can serve as a seamless ‘back channel’ for event moderators who can stay on top of the best questions from the audience. The audience interaction app paired with Google Glass thus represents a private channel between event moderators and their audiences. 
• Real-time context: In a venue equipped with iBeacons, Google Glass can provide a real-time context for event participants who are able to see push-notifications about what is currently happening in which hall as they walk around the premises. 
• Smart networking: Empowered with augmented reality, Google Glass-wearing participants can see the information about other delegates in real time and they can emerge in networking, based on the interests they share with others. 
However, it comes with some risks too: 
• Privacy: The main concern that the public has regarding the use of Google Glass is the privacy issues. It is truly difficult to find out if one is being photographed or videotaped. 
• Distraction: Despite the fact that Google Glass is a discreet piece of technology, push-notifications can be disturbing in face-to-face interactions. 
• Health: Google Glass can be potentially harmful for health as the users wear them on the head and the main control panel is located on the right temple. Its impact on human health is still relatively unexplored. 

Do you believe that it will form a major role in the delivery of meetings in the coming years and in what way? 
PK: It’s only very recently that Google Glass has been available to the public in the US and the UK. Until now, the most thrilling part was actually trying to figure out what we could do with this technology. 

We do believe that Google Glass will bring more engaging and immersive event experiences both for participants as well as for event moderators and speakers. For instance, when paired with the audience interaction app, Google Glass can incorporate the preferences of the audience seamlessly into discussions and thus elevate the entire event experience. Augmented reality, facial recognition and iBeacons are all hot topics too and, in the future, they will find their way into the events industry as well. Just to name few implications, Google Glass can provide attendees with realtime information about the venue, sessions, other delegates or the latest happenings. 

Indeed the opportunities are countless and we’ll only see in the upcoming years which ideas will turn into reality and which ones were just wishful thinking. 

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