What’s Next for Wearable Tech?

The expression “Wear it in good health” has taken on a whole new meaning with fitness- and activity-monitoring wearable devices such as the Fitbit Charge and NikeFuel bracelets entering the consumer market.

Wearables are also on their way to being the next must-have tech item at meetings and trade shows.

As wireless communication technology improves, it becomes easier and less expensive to incorporate it into events. For example, simple radio-frequency identification (RFID) or near-field communication (NFC) wristbands allow attendees to scan exhibit booths to receive more information from a company or sponsor.

“Given how fast things are growing in this area, in the next three or four years we’re going to see ideas and apps come out that are going to be built around this [wearable technology],” Corbin Ball, CSP, CMP, DES, an international speaker, consultant, and writer on meetings technology, says in “Wearable Tech: New Trends and How They Will Impact Events,” this month’s video for The Intersection: Where Technology Meets Inspiration, presented by PCMA and PSAV Presentation Services.

Ball names NFC rings and smart bracelets, smart clothing, and Google Glass as examples of meetings-friendly wearables that he expects to see in the meetings marketplace over the next few years. “You’re not going to have to pull out your phone to interact,” he says. “It’s going to happen in a much more natural way.”

An important issue Ball raises in the video is that as wearable technology is in its adolescence, the etiquette surrounding it is still up in the air. It will be increasingly important for planners to communicate expectations for how these new technologies should be used — not abused — at meetings. “One of the most important things to learn with a new technology,” Ball says, “is when to turn it off.”

The two questions Ball most frequently fields from planners are “How do you keep up?” and “How do I make the right technology decisions for meetings?” In the video, he points out that the meetings industry is incredibly networked, with a huge focus on technology at major industry events, so it’s easy to learn about tech through “old-fashioned” networking in addition to following blogs and social-media discussions.

Kate Mulcrone

Kate Mulcrone is digital editor of Convene.