The Video Revolution’s Impact on the Meetings Industry
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A video revolution, the explosion of new TV and video options, is sweeping society and will have a substantial impact on meetings and events. Here are some of the ways we will likely see it play out.
HDTV and Flat Panel TVs
High-Definition Television (HDTV) is coming to living rooms and businesses around the world. HDTV provides a much better picture, better audio and a wider screen format similar to that used in movies. It will become the broadcast standard in the US in 2009 and global market pressures will force drastic price reductions with many new video options for the consumer market. This significant consumer trend will impact the meetings industry in several ways:
- HDTV for event stage production: Those attending the MPI PEC general sessions in New Orleans were treated to six giant high-resolution 21.6 x 12 foot (xxx meter) screens -- pairs flanking each side of the stage for IMAG (image magnification) and video/slides and an additional pair in the back. The HDTV image quality provide by provided by VT2 Studios (www.vt2.com) was astounding! The applications for event production are very significant. This new standard will make looking at today’s “low-resolution” TV seem as archaic as going from watching a color TV back to an old black-and-white set.
- Flat panels for digital signage: As the price continues to drop and screen sizes continue to expand, flat panel monitors are being used for digital signage in event facilities and hotels. Commonly, a network of flat panel signs will be permanently installed throughout the facility including outside of each meeting room. These digital signs receive content from a centralized computer eliminating the need to produce and post paper event signs. Sign production then becomes automatic. As meeting information (including event title, room and time) is entered into the facility’s management system to produce banquet event orders, this same information can be posted automatically outside the room. Flat panels also afford strong opportunities for branding and promotion including video, pictures, colors, logos and animation.
- Flat panel TVs in meeting and sleeping rooms: Flat panel TVs will also become cost-effective and more theft-resistant alternatives for data projectors in many small meeting rooms and will become standard equipment in most hotel sleeping rooms. The space-saving profile of a wall mounted flat panel TV can give a much more open appearance compared the large TV consoles in common use now. Also, with these new digital video systems, they can double as a large PC monitor and will be able to narrow cast conference events in HD (such as the keynote address) in the comfort of your hotel bedroom.
- HDTV for ultra-realistic video conferencing and telepresence: Cisco (www.cisco.com/telepresence) is moving to telepresence market in a significant way using 1080p video conferencing – a resolution quality roughly twice that of HDTV. Telepresence, using this ultra high quality video signal, makes it appear as if the person you are teleconferencing with is sitting across the table from you in full size and high resolution. Teleconferencing and virtual meetings may never be the same.
Small format video players such as the video iPod and portable DVD players have been around for sometime. The major change coming this summer will be the entry of the iPhone into the market (http://www.apple.com/iphone/). This advanced smart phone, provides very high quality widescreen-formatted video and much more. Expected to sell many millions and similar products from competitors to sell many millions more, this has the potential to do for video and smart phones what the iPod MP3 player did for the music industry – it will revolutionize the way that videos, movies and TV programs are viewed and distributed.
The widespread popularity of YouTube (www.youtube.com), a website where millions of short videos are posted and viewed is an indication for broader adoption of small-format videos in society.
Additionally, several television networks are formatting their shows for mobile video distribution on iTunes (www.itunes.com) and at their web sites. SlingBox (www.slingmedia.com) allows viewers to watch their favorite local TV programs anywhere in the world using a PC and an internet connection. Both are examples of increasing adoption of mobile TV/video products.
The implications for the meeting industry are substantial:
- Promotional video podcasts: Video distributed over the internet and formatted for mobile viewing will become standard. Videos for event promotion, for venue promotion, for speakers, for training and more will become a widely available and inexpensive event advertising and meeting options.
- Promotional video email: As this video revolution works its way into society, I believe that mobile video phone calls and video email will become more common place as well. This too will open up lots of possibilities for promotion and communication.
On-Demand Video and Interactive TV
On-demand video will also bring a host of possibilities. The interactive television (a convergence of TV, the internet, computers, the telephone and computer games) will bring many new opportunities to homes in the near future. The family entertainment/information/communication center (formerly the TV) will provide on-demand HD programming, interactive multi-player online games, computer programs, interactive shopping, social chats with those watching the same program, and much more.
This opens up many opportunities for online, interactive training and testing which could replace some face-to-face training programs and some meetings. A computer tutor is available 24/7, is always patient, never tires and can track/correct learning responses. To assist with this, new and inexpensive video editing software is bringing higher production standards, lower cost and increasing interactivity which will make this type of training easier and more effective to produce and use.
On demand video will increasingly be used in live meetings as well. Some things are better shown by video – complex tasks for example could sometimes be better shown with a well-produced video clip. A large library of on-demand videos could open up a world of possibilities for presenters. The ability to instantly select a targeted video clip from a large online library to answer a specific question, for example, could be helpful in many training situations.
This tide of video change is pushing technology limits in terms of processing speed, data storage, and wired/wireless internet bandwidth. Ultra-high definition on-demand signal, for example, is like a “swimming pool” of data compared to a “cup” of data needed by an email message or a web page. This means that today’s “normal” online experience will get faster, cheaper and more reliable because the existing limits are about to be stretched many times over with these emerging technologies. Ultra-cheap storage, huge disk capacities (terabyte drives), blindingly-fast internet connections and faster processors in mobile products rivaling and surpassing what are on today’s desktops are among the few advances we can expect in the next few years.
We are in for a wild ride of change. Fortunately many of these changes will bring improved quality, increased convenience, and more options on how we receive information and how we manage meetings. The challenges, however, will be dealing with the sea of new choices. For example, many of us are grappling with increasing number of remote controls (proliferating like rabbits on the couch) – each with a myriad of arcane buttons – none with a standard layout. This is a good metaphor for the video revolution in general: there will be many more opportunities but the challenge will be trying to figure them all out.
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