What Event Planners Can Take Away from CES 2018

One of the world’s biggest trade shows has a bounty of ideas for planners

Every January in sunny Las Vegas, CES (a behemoth of a tech trade show put on by the Consumer Technology Association) puts the gadgets and gizmos with the most buzz on display. And while it’s easy to reserve the flurry of drones, robotics and out-of-this-world innovations for tech nerds and Silicon Valley-type companies, the show actually boasts a bounty of applicable ideas for event planners. As we’ve discussed at length before, having a solid understanding of the latest event tech isn’t just an added bonus in your job––it’s imperative for staying competitive and engaging increasingly tech-savvy attendees. 

Here are our three favorite tech trends from the show that event planners should take note of in 2018.  

Expanding Smart Home (or Event) Devices

According to a report from Forbes, smart home devices––including Amazon Alexa, Amazon Echo and Google Home––were some of the most prominent tech items on display at this year’s CES show. As we’ve highlighted in previous posts, digital assistants can help planners with tasks from agenda management (you can integrate your calendar with the Alexa app), setting the mood (Alexa can dim lights with a single voice command) and presentations (Siri will move from slide to slide with a single voice command). As these technologies continue to evolve, the possibilities for planners will as well. Executives at both Google and Amazon noted during the show that they are aiming to make their voice assistants controllable from cars, allowing you to assign tasks and make last-minute updates to agendas prior to even entering the hotel property! Those same executives also noted that they are aiming to make their digital assistants more conversational, so the awkwardness of speaking to Siri mid-presentation (in front of a group of attendees) will undoubtedly diminish. 

An Explosion of AR

In that same Forbes piece, the author spotlights augmented reality as being one of CES’ biggest displays––in addition to being one of 2018’s most prominent tech trends. For event planners, this will undoubtedly mean that your ability to conduct experiential meetings will increase in sophistication tenfold.  

For example, one of the trade show’s most noted displays was for Pico Interactive’s “Eagle,” a lightweight AR headset that boasts one big differentiating quality, especially for event planners: Wearers maintain situational awareness of their surroundings. This could potentially help users conduct their own work (i.e., taking notes) while still being immersed in the virtual reality (i.e., touring a client’s new facility). 

On a slightly less serious note, another big hit at this year’s CES show, Snaappy, is sure to be a hit at any Celebrate or Network event. The mobile app allows users to create and send 3-D generated messages that are completely customizable––an opportune branding moment, too. 

Device Charging Planners Can Control

Although it might seem slightly less sexy than, say, augmented reality or digital assistants, CES featured another big breakthrough: wireless charging. 

Now, you’re probably under the assumption that “wireless charging” translates to charging pads or solar devices––and true, CES 2018 had several of those. But the most notable chargers on display, including Powercast and Energous, unveiled chargers that can transmit power to multiple devices at once over the air. The Daily Mail reported that Powercast can send power coverage to an area in a similar fashion to Wi-Fi––all but eliminating the rush for attendees to find the seats closest to outlets, especially during a daylong meeting.