With AI set to take over the events industry, Olivia Powell investigates how AI is being used to quantify happiness at events.
Zenus Biometrics, a US-based event software company, has invented an innovative way to use AI.
The Happy Map was developed by Zenus after event organisers asked the biometrics company if sentiment analysis was possible – as in, if attendee’s happiness at events could be measured.
The name for the software was inspired by the way it visualises data; like a heat map, it shows where the most concentrated places in an event are, but instead of temperature, it displays engagement and sentiment.
The Happy Map has already been deployed to several events and bookings are growing. One example is GOWEST – Zenus have formed a partnership with the event, and so attendees will be able to experience all Zenus’ services, including activations, registration, and the Happy Map. The company is also in the process of launching similar partnerships with other shows, such as digitalNow.
Before the event, Zenus receives the floor plan along with the key objectives (i.e. the questions that the organisers want to be answered) and sets up the tech accordingly.
To cover small areas, for example booths, Zenus provide a plug-and-play camera kit. The battery cable is simply plugged in, and the camera performs all processing on the device – no video is stored or transmitted, and it does not need to connect to WiFi either.
For larger spaces, Zenus have configurations which allow the Happy Map to capture and analyse thousands of faces with a single camera, even if there are low light levels at the event. For these situations, the Zenus team must to be on-site to install and run everything.
CEO of Zenus, Panos Moutafis, says the results are often surprising: “In one of my favourite events, everyone was expecting exhibitors giving out cool swag and alcohol to make people happiest. However, it was exhibitors which associated their brand with a higher cause that had the best effects; one brought puppies for adoption; another had a gift giving program for people in need. It was fascinating reviewing the results.”
Moutafis is of the belief that AI can help event organisers achieve what he sees as their common goal – to ‘help attendees to grow and form meaningful connections’. He thinks creating a personalised experience for visitors is crucial in achieving this goal, and that using the Happy Map can assist in this.
Moutafis said: “Existing technologies limit the organiser’s ability to make every attendee feel special. The tools we use do not offer continuous and accurate identification. Segmenting the audience is often a painful experience. And analysing engagement or sentiment is cumbersome at best.
A personal touch
“The use of Artificial Intelligence will address these challenges. Events will become as personalised as streaming services which recommend us movies, but better. AI will empower event organisers and help them understand their audience at a deeper level. It will let them design dynamic experiences to greatly enhance the value attendees receive. It is an exciting time to work at events.”
Praise notwithstanding, Moufatis does recognise that there are certain limitations to AI, including execution. He compares it to learning how to ride a bike for the first time – something that takes a few tries to get right. However, the events industry is an environment where first impressions really count, so it is realistically something that needs to go right first time. So, how do event organisers do this?
Manos thinks about it allegorically: “One way to think about it: a loved one has to perform an operation and you can choose between a surgeon with one operation under their belt versus someone with one hundred. Which one do you choose?
The more experienced one. The same thing applies with AI – it is best working with experts to avoid paying for gimmicks or having things not work.”
Despite fearmongering that robots and AI will be taking over and that people will be replaced by machines, Manos remains unphased. He remarks that: “When people find ways to produce the same output with less resources, they tend to do this one extra thing they could not do before. It empowers them to dream bigger and go after more ambitious goals.
“The use of AI will have the exact same effect. Event organisers will have more resources and time to express their creativity and talents leading to even better events and more growth for the industry. As I said earlier, it is an exciting time to work in the events sector.”
This article recently featured in Exhibition News magazine. For more content like this, click here.