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July 18, 2006

Technology: Stand out from the crowd

There have been huge advances in the technology available for use in exhibition stand design over the past few years. Companies now have many alternatives to the plasma displays that tend to litter exhibition halls. Improvements in digital technology mean lighting and video can be seamlessly integrated, and the ability to use LED screens as lighting sources and moving light technology to project video opens a huge arena of design opportunities.

Several manufacturers are now producing moving light fixtures with the ability to project digital video imagery. This allows the video designer to treat virtually any surface as a screen.  But for Andrew Douglass, managing director of live communications company innovision, the most effective video development is the ability to produce soft-edged panoramic projections. “Size of imaging is no longer restricted to 4:3 or 16:9 formats,” he explains. “With the advent of smaller, lighter and higher resolution LED modules you can integrate video into scenic elements including flooring, and this can be reliably and consistently tied in with automated sound mixing and scenic automation.”

Douglas points out that most of the digital technology used in exhibitions comes from theatre and is adapted into the corporate arena. “You just have to see some of the shows currently in production in the West End and you have some of the best and most professional special effects on display,” he explains. “One popular recent example of this is the use of holograms, which has been much embraced by the automotive industry.”

Hologram displays can help make your stand unique, and are a novel way of catching people’s attention. “Increasingly people have more and more sophisticated entertainment options available – Xbox, PlayStation2, PlayStaion Portable, iPod’s – meaning that they need to be ‘wowed’ to pay any attention,” explains Kenneth Siber, whose company Betaminds makes a holographic display called Heliodisplay. “LCD and plasma screens are already standard exhibition stand fare, but holographic displays truly create a buzz. Allowing people to interact with the objects floating in air by using the display as a touch screen truly amazes and encourages them to stay longer at a stand and then go off and tell other people about it.”

Another technology that companies are using to attract visitors onto stands is wi-fi. “While it is becoming a mainstay of large venues, for those events where the venue is not wi-fi enabled, individual exhibitors are taking advantage of the benefits of the technology by installing it on their own stands,” says Nicole Iannello, marketing manager, BT Wireless Broadband.

“Offering those drawn to the stand the opportunity to access the internet at broadband speeds via a laptop or PDA has significant benefits in particular environments,” continues Iannello. “Buyers, for example, can update their order books instantly after agreeing on a deal at a stand. What’s more, with staff obviously out of the office for prolonged periods during an event, a wi-fi connection can cater for their needs, too.”

However, one thing companies need to be aware of is that whatever the technology they are installing, it needs to be appropriate for the stand and the venue, plus it needs to be relevant to the audience experience and key messages.

Technology if used well can be an effective way of bringing people onto your stand and capturing their attention. At the same time, used badly it is a wasted investment. It is not enough to have a plasma screen running a video on your stand as people will simply walk past – you need to actively invite them to watch it. Meanwhile, complex interactives that have enough information to keep you on a stand for a month, can be one of the biggest turn-offs. So when using the latest technology to give your stand the edge over your competitors, the message is clear: keep it appropriate, engaging and simple.


innovision - www.innovision.uk.com
Betaminds - www.betaminds.com/helio
BT Openzone - www.bt.com/openzone

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