Hundreds of billions of sensors are deploying quietly. They will track our every move and monitor almost everything with which we interact. The Internet of Things (IOT) will transform society and will have a significant impact on tradeshows and events. As everything links with everything else, this will be the next big technology revolution!
IOT Defined
IOT is the connection of objects and people to transfer data over a network without the need for human interaction. Sensor chips in a myriad of “things” (appliances, thermostats, door locks, TVs, watches/bracelets, cars, buildings, roads, power grids, dams, livestock and more) will provide unprecedented efficiency and convenience. A broader term, the Internet of Everything (IOE), is perhaps a more descriptive term for this revolution that will be affecting us all in the near future.
 
Our Bodies
Most of us are already carrying a very sophisticated set of sensors and a sensor control panel in our pockets – our smart phones. They can track our every movement and can interact with a greatly increasing assortment of things. Other wearable devices (smart watchesNFC rings (requiring no batteries), smart beltsactivity monitors, health monitors (via bracelets/phones/watches), smart clothing, and much more will monitor our location, activity, health and interact automatically with other devices.
 
Our Home
Homes are a big target for IOT with connected sensors coming in thermostats, door locks, lights, TV/entertainment systems, security systems and appliances. Sensors will recognize us as we approach our homes to automatically unlock/open the door, turn on the lights, and start entertainment systems based on our preferences. Thermostats will recognize our patterns and control the heat accordingly. Appliances will have sensors to alert of pending equipment failures, proper use and even if we are running short on milk. Small items such as baby bottlestoothbrushes and bathroom scales track efficiency and health. It will be likely that, eventually, even mundane items such as a chair will have chips to track inventory and purchase details.
 
The World
Our bodies and homes are just the start. Connected cars, transportation systems, roadways, parking lots, buildings, power grids and city infrastructure systems are seeing similar explosive growth of sensors to increase efficiency in improve the experience of humans using them.
 
Applications for Meeting Venues
Indirect results of IOT are coming soon in a wide range of attendee experiences. The hotel room will become “smart” with mobile guestroom door locks and sensors to determine presence for AC adjustment/lighting. Smart TVs are already in many rooms.  Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) sensors including iBeacons can track attendee movements throughout a meeting facility and local area to provide a wide range of assistance such as location-aware information and directions. The San Diego Convention Center and the downtown Gaslamp district is a great example of how this will develop (video at:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ep_xWJyKHVc).   
 
On a broader basis, hotels and other meeting venues will become more efficient as sensors help to manage lighting, signage, AC, parking, elevators, loss control, security, and crowd control. Smart lighting, in some cases, tune to any color with varying intensities with much lower energy consumption. A convention center, for example, could “paint” the exact show colors of the current conference on the building exterior using connected LED lighting.
 
Applications for Tradeshows and Events
In the way that smartphones are already transforming the attendee experience at tradeshows and events, other wearable smart devices will bring a new level of convenience avoiding the “fumble factor” of digging out phones from our pockets and purses.
 
Smart watches and other wearables will likely help event participants to:·         
  • receive GPS directions
  • receive directional indoor way-finding through a convention facility/exhibition hall
  • open guestroom doors
  • make e-wallet transactions that are faster and more secure than credit cards
  • receive conference alerts
  • exchange contact/lead retrieval information
  • use as admission tickets
  • make audience polling responses
  • enable automated check-in for registration/meeting rooms
  • record and track continuing education unit (CEU) credits and much more
 
Smart phones have changed society greatly in the past seven years. In the next seven years, IOT will take this change to a completely new level affecting many aspects of day-to-day life, hotels, meeting venues, events and tradeshows.
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