Editor’s Note: This conversation is a combination of Ludwig’s presentation at Cvent Connect and a personal interview.

Senior Vice President of Sales, Cvent

What should we prepare for in the future of events?

I have never been more excited about the future of event tech than I am today. The pandemic was awful for a million reasons, but one good thing resulted: fast proliferation of technology in all industries and meetings and events is no different.

What fun personal gadgets and devices should we be on the lookout for?

Some ideas such as winged smartphones haven’t taken off, but foldable screens could be the future. Samsung Flip and Microsoft Duo are two examples on the market today. Apple has patented a screen that retracts into itself, so a phone turns into a device the size of a tablet. It would also allow attendees to use a second screen during an event.

Google is solving the 3D television problem with Project Starline. It compresses 3D imaging to send data over existing networks, then renders them viewable in three dimensions so it feels like you are talking to a person in a realistic way without 3D glasses.

Lume Pad is a 3D lightfield tablet-size device that gives perspective from all points of view, again, no glasses required. PORTL hologram-in-a-box will allow event speakers to beam themselves into a device in your home. Imagine the level of collaboration that could happen at distance?

How will technology allow events to be more environmentally conscious?

Algae-filled living bionic chandeliers already in existence use living microorganisms to conduct photosynthesis and absorb carbon dioxide while exhaling breathable oxygen. Next, they technology could be applied to buildings with algae panels providing energy to power the venue. Once the algae is used up, it can serve as fertilizer. Buildings of the future could be much more thoughtful about the environment.

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3D printing of beverages could save the waste of bottled and canned beverages. Only the 1% that makes the difference between types of drinks would be shipped to shrink the environmental footprint of moving around all those liquids.

Where is virtual technology going?

We believe there will be substantial innovation in the virtual event technology space that goes so much further than we are right now.

One example of the coming dominance of 3D technology is the fact that last year, Oculus outsold Xbox. Think about it. At one point, no one owned laptops, then companies bought them for employees and they became mainstream. The same could happen with virtual headsets. The VR headset market is predicted to be $88 billion in just three years with Sony, Facebook, Samsung, Microsoft making big investments and the Metaverse dependent on their adoption.

Speakers may be the next professional replaced by technology. Your event could be MC’d by a virtual personality. Already, the first artificial social media influencer on Instagram is named Miquela and she endorses all kinds of products.

“Virtual events will get more realistic and in-person events will get more virtual.”

VR headsets with locomotion sensors can be used to navigate the trade show floor before the event or leverage actual walking to move from booth-to-booth at a virtual trade show. Augmented reality glasses could help with wayfinding to help get from ballroom to breakout.

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The virtual event of the future could be an immersive environment that includes the surrounding landscape, walking, biking or flying around the trade show.

Normally the virtual speaker is seen, but not the virtual audience. Bringing the audience to the stage in a dynamic LED screen adds to the energy and is already being done at Tony Robbins conferences.

Combining robotics and the internet could allow virtual attendees to interact with in-person attendees. I predict you will see a ton of innovation in line with that goal.

What tools are on the horizon for in-person events?

Events of the future could allow you to watch live content remotely with a group of people in a hub and spoke configuration. These watch parties are already happening at IMAX theaters. Sixteen-foot-tall Kanye West is streaming concerts all over the country in real time.

Holograms may get to the point where you don’t know who is real and who is a projection with projected speakers becoming standard fare.

On stage, curved screens can produce realistic 3D effects. Instead of flat backdrops, graphics projected on the on bowed walls and floors with an in-person speaker presenting alongside 3D graphics can be very compelling.

I firmly believe we are going to get there in the next 10 to 15 years.

Attendees will continue to attend in-person because networking can’t be replicated online. Immersive and innovative virtual content, in an odd twist, will speed up digitization of in-person tech. Virtual events will get more realistic and in-person events will get more virtual. No matter what they look like, the attendee experience will be front-and-center. Audience first, always.

This article appears in the June 2022 issue.