Corbin Ball gives the lowdown on IBTM World Tech Watch

Established in 2000, The IBTM World Technology & Innovation Watch is the longest running and arguably most significant technology award for the meetings industry. The goals are to recognize technology innovation and to highlight significant trends impacting meeting planners, attendees and exhibitors at events.

Seven finalists have been selected.

The winner will be announced during IBTM in Barcelona on Tuesday 19 November, 2019. Seven judges scored the entries based on innovation, completeness of concept, and the value to the meetings industry. In alphabetical order, they are:


Room diagramming software has been around since the early 1990’s. 3D rendering of event space sets has also been available for many years. What differentiates this entry is that it takes this to the next level using virtual reality. There use of an inexpensive Google cardboard format is useful, as it allows interested participants to access and collaborate in the meeting design in an almost free manner.

Meeting planners and event venues are selling a dream – an event that has not yet occurred. Realistic, to-scale rendering in VR goes a long way to assist with this!

Trend: The increasing use of VR in events.

G-SMATT America:

G-Smatt media glass provide large scale, transparent, interactive LED displays. This provides a wide range of opportunities for exhibit displays and other event-related signage.  Although transparent LEDs have been available on a small scale for several years, this entry really opens up many display options.

Trends: LED display advances, interactive displays

Lineup Ninja:

There are many speaker and abstract management software products available. The innovation in this product is the manner that it collects these data and integrates with advance scheduling capabilities. This includes a number of capabilities including a quick agenda builder with drag/drop capabilities, double-booking cautions, AV/room setup requirements and the capability to then publish this schedule via a website and mobile app.

As a former meeting planner running large meetings with dozens of simultaneous session, this set of tools would have been a huge time-saver.

Trend: The combination of speaker management with agenda management.


This ticketing/badging solution uses NFC bands for access control, lead tracking, cashless payment, gamification and other personalized experiences. The payment system uses blockchain for immutable, secure transactions.

Trends: The festivalization of events, cashless payments, blockchain


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This system uses iPhone cameras as facial recognition data collectors to determine anonymously the number of attendees, their age, their gender, their sentiment, the amount of time spent (dwell time), and what they are looking at in an exhibit display or other event area. To do so anonymously eliminates the concern about privacy intrusion.

These data could be very useful for exhibitors and event managers to determine a range of attendee demographics.

Trends: Facial recognition, anonymous attendee demographic data collection


This is a simultaneous interpretation system that uses artificial intelligence (AI) voice recognition to instantly translate an event presentation into fifteen languages. All that is required is a patch from the sound system into the internet-based application. Attendees access the information via their mobile devices using Wi-Fi. These services are at a small fraction of the cost of providing human interpreters, sound booths, and audio headsets onsite. Although it will likely not replace the need for human translators for very high-end events, this opens up the opportunities to provide simultaneous translation for a much broader range of events.

Trends: Artificial intelligence, voice recognition


Zenus facial recognition system for registration was the winner of last year’s IBTM TechWatch. This year’s entry focuses on anonymous facial recognition to determine a range of demographics of an audience watching a presentation. This includes a count of attendees, their sentiment, their age, their gender, and level of attention. This provides immediate feedback of audience sentiment to a speaker or other interested observers.

Trends:  Facial recognition, anonymous audience demographic data collection, audience interest level measurement.