Various Uses Include Marketing, Interactivity, Check-in & Security  by Leslie Martin

Facial recognition technology may conjure memories of the movie Minority Report, in which Tom Cruise’s character walks through a mall as bots call his name and offer products. Recently considered a technology of the future, face scanning biometric tech is here. From suggested photo tags on Facebook to improved security at airports, it’s a versatile technology with broad applications. For face-to-face marketing, facial recognition technology can improve the attendee experience and gather insightful data for marketers. As people become accustomed to the technology, it’s important to know what’s possible on the tradeshow floor.

How Facial Recognition Technology Works

The technology is surprisingly simple. All that facial recognition requires is an image or video frame to scan for specific biomarkers. Within a blink of an eye, the technology can extract facial measurements to predict demographics, personal identity, or emotional expressions, or scan a database for a match, or do something creative, such as create an avatar.

Because it only requires an image, facial recognition doesn’t usually require specialized hardware, customizations, and on-site support. It’s a software that can be downloaded to devices with a camera, like a laptop, tablet or smartphone. That makes it relatively inexpensive and as accessible as downloading an app.

 Gather Marketing Feedback

Traditional methods of measuring traffic flow and gauging user experience takes time and effort, as well as distracts from the marketing message. However, facial recognition technology takes work continuously in the background to gather data and extract analytics in a non-intrusive manner.

“At this point, facial recognition has very simple tracking, like whether the face is a man or woman, and rudimentary emotional response, such as if they laughed,” says Damien Christian, executive creative director at Vaylian. Expressions can be used to judge attendee engagement, which can be helpful in analyzing how to connect with attendees. For further analysis, gamification tied with emotional responses can show what the users are interested in. That’s even more sophisticated if the results can be attributed to the user, often through an app.

Heatmaps drawn from the scans of faces across a space can also help show organizers gauge points of interest on the show floor. It’s even possible to gather insights by group type and track each attendee’s journey.

 Intuitively Interactive

Once the crowd arrives, booth staff must be able to handle the traffic flow and create a memorable experience. Technologies like AR and VR require special equipment and its scalability is limited to the hardware available. Additionally, putting on the equipment and receiving training takes time. “Our tradeshow clients want to know the mass of people who experience the asset. The more interactive equipment, like VR, require more training for the users and the throughput may drop,” says Christian.

One of the biggest advantages to utilizing facial recognition technology is that it requires only a forward-facing camera. Once people see themselves on the screen, they know what to do–just like taking a selfie. Plus, it works without user action, and allows for people to have an experience while waiting to talk to booth staff.

Engage Attendees on the Show Floor

To draw a big crowd to their booth, exhibitors need to stand out on the show floor. Video is a go-to tactic to grab attention, but it’s passive. Big screens that contain forward-facing cameras, however, can utilize facial recognition technology to create an interactive experience, even in a big crowd. “Sensors can separate people from their background and track their positions in the booth. With a big screen and camera, the creative can work like a greenscreen experience,” says Christian.

Attendees can see themselves transported to distance places, like a jungle or hotel resort, on the greenscreen. The interactive experience is an attention grabber than can be seen from a distance on the show floor. While waiting to talk to booth staff, attendees can immediately enjoy an experience.

Another issue with other technologies on the show floor is that they are an isolated experience. For example, it’s hard to have a conversation with someone using VR. A camera on a screen, however, gives people something to talk about.

Christian recommends, “Build a takeaway for the participant from the facial recognition–not only is it recognizing the person, it can do a scan, photographic, and can create an avatar that the participant can keep and use on social media.”

Efficient Check-in & Security

No one likes waiting in line. At tradeshows and events, the process is slowed down by users not following instructions, or taking time to fumble through check-in. If the event takes advantage of facial recognition, users can submit their picture and ID during registration. When checking-in at the event, users can do so at a self-service station that instantly identifies them. Because the technology only requires a camera, there’s no need to buy expensive hardware. Virtually all laptops and mobile devices will work.

 Increasingly Prevalent

From logging into the latest iPhone X to security at airports, facial recognition is becoming increasingly prevalent. As average people become accustomed to the technology, the streamlined experience will become expected rather than unique. For the tradeshow marketer, it’s time to take advantage of this emerging technology in the face-to-face marketing space.

Lesley Martin is a writer and digital producer working in San Francisco, Calif. Connect with her at www.linkedin.com/in/lesleymartin.

This story originally appeared in the July/August issue of Exhibit City News, p. 18. For more pictures and original layout, visit http://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/ecnflipbook_julyaugust2018_web?e=16962537/62860459

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