Constant changes in technology can sometimes make trade show managers reluctant to chase the latest trend. Yet, early adopters of past innovations such as badge scanners or marketing automation software clearly found themselves ahead of our industry’s productivity curve. If you’re wondering which of today’s advancements have the staying power to influence tomorrow’s trade show experience, pay special attention to the following three areas in the years ahead.

Facial recognition software promises to revolutionize the check-in experience at future trade shows. Not only can it eliminate the need for ticket scanners, kiosks, wearables, etc., it can dramatically speed the check-in process, and provide organizers with a way to immediately deliver custom event itineraries. Facial recognition at large events also provides a certain degree of demographic data (age, gender, etc.), can aid with event security, and will ultimately allow data collectors to match facial captures with social media profiles. Consumers have already become accustomed to using the biometric tool, from logging in to their smartphones to monitoring photos of themselves on social media. Look for this technology to expand to the convention floor in the years ahead. This type of technology is already at work in some airports around the country. In fact, at my home airport, Dulles in Washington DC, a person using a fake passport was caught when the facial recognition software there showed his face did not match his passport photo. Read about it here. Also, China is taking facial recognition software to a new level in society. Click here to read about how China is using this new technology.

LED lighting originally emerged as a somewhat low-tech, efficient and durable way to light your booth. Today, entire exhibits are being built around LED technology. Projection mapping uses LEDs to create three-dimensional displays by projecting an image onto a surface. Similar to the way LCD panels allowed allowed for more efficient changes to ad displays, projection mapping can allow you to change your booth from one year to the next, or even between shows. And kinetic lighting displays combine LEDs with motors and truss systems to create elaborate moving light sculptures. Look for costs on these systems to drop as they become increasingly commonplace.

Machine learning is a buzzword you’ll be hearing a lot of in the year ahead. Unlike programmed technology designed to compute a predetermined task, machine learning analyzes dynamic, real-world data inputs to become increasingly “smarter” and make predictive assessments. It’s a subset of artificial intelligence, and It is revolutionizing industries where business success has long been tied to indeterminate future outcomes, from enhancing precision agriculture to improving patient health to speeding pharmaceutical trials. The technology has special relevance to trade show marketers, as it can analyze audience information from multiple sources such as internet data from third party data providers, engagement from your website analytics, and sentiment from social media platforms to help you stratify your prospects and better target your content marketing.

As technology converges, it’s likely that no single trend or application will define our industry in the years ahead. But by understanding emergent tech’s applications, you can better select the tools and services to continually improve and enhance your exhibition goals. Click here and find other technologies that bring your products to life!