What use are kinetic exhibits at fairs and congresses?

Kinetic, moving exhibits catch the eye at trade fairs, conventions and events, in museums and at the point of sale. They help explain our ever-changing world in a simple, hands-on manner. Moving objects reach our brain quicker than those that are motionless. This is of crucial importance to exhibitors at trade fairs because what it is critical to draw the attention of the public in a matter of seconds. Computer-generated additional information offers new education and experience opportunities.

Photo: Axel Haschkamp
Photo: Axel Haschkamp

Axel Haschkamp
Management MKT AG
Olching near Munich

Filtered consciousness

For a long time, one of the clichés in marketing was that people make rational decisions. Now, in the wake of the most recent neurological research, we know the opposite to be true. Every second, our senses transmit approximately 11 million units of information (bits) to our brain. Our emotions and value systems automatically filter most of them out of our consciousness. Perhaps 40 bits that our brain can recall remain in our conscious perception. The path to these 40 bits is to address customers by way of emotions. Kinetic exhibits increase the duration as well as the intensity of engagement, and they extend a visitor's capacity for recall of a topic.

Museums set an example

Many museums set a good example of how this can work. To maintain and prolong the interest of visitors, museums have reinvented themselves over the last twenty years. Instead of the previously motionless exhibits, an interactive landscape appeared in which visitors actively explore a topic. New interactive technologies are at the core of the learning experience, consistent with the motto, “I understand what I create.” High-tech installations allow visitors to experience complex interrelations by means of a playful approach.

Customer loyalty initiative

In 2012, Singapore Changi Airport staged the largest kinetic art installation in the world: “Kinetic Rain”. It is now admired by thousands of passengers who pass through the departure hall in Terminal 1, prompting them to linger awhile and to pause. Others are also pursuing the same task – i.e. to extend the period of the customer’s stay and offer them a brand experience that goes beyond the core product. They include the largest casinos in the world, many of which are in the Far East: In Asia we can now see an actual race for customer attractions of this nature. Kinetic installations are attractions and customer loyalty initiatives rolled into one.

Trailblazing museums: Instead of the previously motionless exhibits, an interactive landscape appeared in which visitors actively explore a topic. (Photo: MKT)
Trailblazing museums: Instead of the previously motionless exhibits, an interactive landscape appeared in which visitors actively explore a topic. (Photo: MKT)

Expanded presentation

Data glasses are one of the popular media. They enable visitors to enter a brand universe that is not physically manifest but imparted only by way of media. Hence, they permit a representation of product benefits that would not be possible by conventional means. Applied to trade fairs, this technology allows the exhibitor to expand a small booth space exponentially by virtual means without paying extra in booth rent, and to present his entire product portfolio. Or to have the participants in a medical congress take a virtual tour of the human body and explore it internally. In general, an emotional experience in which a person is an active participant and which addresses as many senses as possible, is more powerfully retained by the target audience.

Automotive insights

The technology offers many options, as an example from the automotive sector goes to show. MKT AG fabricated medially extended telescopes for Audi, enabling the observer to retrieve information on a location or object. A camera integrated within the instrument films the physical surroundings, displaying them in real time on the screen at the top of the telescope. This gives observers the impression that they are looking at their surroundings through the instrument, while they are actually viewing a camera image on screen. The image can be expanded to incorporate short texts, audio, additional images or video clips by means of controls on the handle. Thus, the dynamics of a location can be depicted or objects brought to life.

Means to an end

Despite all the enthusiasm, technology is not self-serving but always a means to an end. The first step therefore, always lies in answering questions such as: Which message is to be communicated, and what is its objective? What is the target group like and to what degree is it new technology savvy? In the field of trade fairs and conventions this is often easy to answer, as the professions and industry (sectors) represented there are mostly homogeneous.

This article was published in TFI issue 3-4/2015


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