Wearable technology takes events engagement to a new level
Vince Ota
Executive Creative Director, Global

Wearable technology is big business when it comes to health and wellness, particularly post-pandemic. Recent research from Deloitte shows that advances in sensors and artificial intelligence (AI) are helping millions detect and manage chronic health conditions on devices small enough to be worn on a wrist. But what about wearables’ potential for the event industry?

Exhibition and conference organizers are familiar with RFID bracelets and smart badges, which can help organizers track and collect data on attendees’ movements, as well as how they engage with booths and activations.

More recently, trends have focused on eyewear that allows attendees to capture experiences through display technology such as augmented reality, enabling brands to communicate in new and interesting ways.

“AR and VR eyewear are of course the en vogue devices as the industry positions itself around the metaverse,” says Vince Ota, executive creative director at Pico. “Immersive applications like Microsoft Mesh provide mixed reality experiences that respond to an attendee’s physicality and are a natural for event organizers and brands at physical shows.”

Smart badges, adds Ota, offer the ultimate experience for both the attendee and the organizer – they enhance the attendee experience and provide the organizer with huge amounts of data and opportunities to personalise the experience.

Aside from providing new, exciting experiences to attendees, the tech provides more insight for organizers, event planners and brands around their audience.

For a ‘wearable’ of a different kind – think clothing rather than tech. US-based JabberYak, which provides ‘social icebreaking products’, provides technology that enables users to select seven personal interests that show who they are. These interests can then be printed on T-shirts, event badges or name tags, which can be handed out at events.

Wearables can certainly add an element of fun to an event, as well as providing valuable data, but as Ota outlines, adoption and cost on a mass scale are probably the biggest barriers.

“With the current global Covid situation, in particular, there is an understandable reluctance to invest the additional budget required for wearables, on both the hardware and software sides,” he says.

“Nevertheless, this kind of investment would optimise the experience, and the data would provide event hosts or backers with a better return, even with a smaller audience.”

This interview with Vince Ota, Executive Creative Director (Global) of Pico Group, was published in M&C Asia on 8 March 2022.