is Touching (and Not Touching) Tomorrow

New Interfaces Bring Inspiration for In-person Interactive Experiences

A technology revolution is pushing us into spaces and, soon, into a world without screens.

Accelerated by the rapid return to in-person events and our continued exploration of the future of experiences, including what’s next for virtual events, we see the return of trends driven by advancements in technology.

Some technology-driven trends are reemerging, like the power of sensory branding, the potential of smart surfaces, and the allure of social wearables. While other trends are rebooting, like facial recognition, which is now under fire in a world of changing data privacy approaches and hindered by new evidence that AI-driven monitoring of facial expressions cannot actually reveal a person’s emotions.

Now, as we move into the unimagined next, we are finding inspiration for the next generation of trends, so get ready to open some new tabs as we dig in more.

On the Go Convenience—At the Event

Driven by their rise in retail, the increased availability of cashless technologies is coming to events and is being provided by more venues. While, even as social distancing realities transform, event professionals continue using new tools for anonymous real-time density tracking, providing pre-event seat selectors, and enabling to-seat delivery of food and beverages.

The rise of robots is gaining steam as they are built to help us in new ways, including carrying our luggage at airports, being our butlers at hotels, cooking, and then serving our food at restaurants, and entertaining us during the Tokyo Olympics.

Of course, one of our favorites will be a core of future virtual experiences: using telepresence robots to beam speakers and attendees into our in-person events.

Sharing Face Time—In Magical Ways

Within the push to return to offices, both Google and Microsoft are expanding on their vision for the future of collaboration.

Google’s human-forward designs for hybrid meetings show how simple environments and screens can integrate in-person and remote participants. From their R&D labs, Google is bringing a bit of magic to conversations. Their new Project Starline combines “advances in hardware and software to enable friends, families, and co-workers to feel together, even when they’re cities (or countries) apart.”

Meanwhile, Microsoft is breaking beyond the screens with their newly launched platform for collaborative mixed reality experiences. With Microsoft Mesh, the potential of holoportation will bring remote people together through the use of virtual and augmented reality.

From Face to Interface—Interactivity Goes Touchless

At the intersection of R&D, investments in assistive technology, and the rapid increase in touchless technology within retail (because, you know, Covid), 2021 has seen a wave of incredible innovations become commercially available.

For onsite screens and digital signage, voice-controlled kiosks are now smarter in busy rooms, touchless screen controls are removing the need to tap-and-swipe public displays, and gaze-based interfaces are opening up a world of responsive potential.

Soon, there will be no screens at all. New holographic interactive screens are commercializing, hand-tracking and gesture recognition is moving into midair, and haptic controls turning ultrasound into virtual tactical sensations projected onto your hands.

Interactivity at the Intersection of Technologies

In an industry that is constantly pushing into what’s next, these technologies have emerged as our in-person events have renewed. Across our agency and in our reopened labs, new concepts are coming together, and some audaciousness is merging these technologies into previously unattainable and unimagined experiences.

We look forward to exploring with you there.


By Brent Turner

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Brent is a member of the executive team for Opus Agency, an experience agency that delivers flagship programs for 13 of the top 20 global brands.

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