Jun 23, 2021

4 technology trends that will change live events in the next 5 years

Live Events 4 min read

It’s said that the 2020s are the dawn of the fourth industrial revolution. We find ourselves in a society that’s shaped by new technological innovations in all aspects of life. New technologies are emerging constantly but what can they bring to the entertainment industry? In this post we’ll give an overview of the four most important technology trends that will surely change the future of live events.

The facilitators of new opportunities

5G network technology

5G is a new global wireless standard that follows the previous 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G networks. To understand how transformative these upgrades can be, you should know that the move to 4G networks in 2010 was the real drive for the smartphone revolution and today’s app economy. Without 4G, there’d be no Uber, TikTok, PokemonGo, Spotify or Netflix! The first 5G networks were launched in early 2019 and it’s really expected to gain considerable momentum in the next five years with a big impact on smart technologies and video-related content applications.

There are three major differences compared to the current 4G capabilities: speed, bandwidth, and latency. And all three of them will prove to be important for the events and entertainment sector in the future. The fifth-generation mobile network is strong enough to handle more data and more connections faster, so you’ll need less cables and hard disks in your set-up. In fact, 5G is designed to support a 100x increase in traffic capacity and network efficiency. The improved speed and capacity support the increased high-resolution media requirements and bandwidth-hungry livestream applications. Low latency and reduced data-load time is also crucial when working with real-time video feeds and immersive technologies.

Processing power

Have you ever heard about Moore’s Law? In the 1960s, Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel, observed that the number of transistors that fit on a CPU doubles every two years. Consequently, it means that processing speed and computing power was also doubling every two years. Sixty years later, we’re slowly hitting the physical limits and cost-effectiveness of the ever-shrinking chips and transistors. But that doesn’t mean the end of progress in processing power! New software codes and algorithmic developments, exploiting the multiple core processors, continue the path for better CPU performance and an acceleration in GPU power.

Today’s event industry work mostly with screen management systems and visualization solutions relying on FPGAs. But with the increased growth of processing power also come new possibilities and broader applications. The needs for processing continue to increase driven by more demanding content (HDR, 8K, 3D…), efficient image/video compression, and high-res visualization technologies. Combining the strengths of both FPGA and software solutions will fulfill those processing needs with lower latency and optimized workflow flexibility.

Impact on workflow technologies

Real-time rendering

There is an uptake in live events using real-time-rendered content (RTR) instead of playback of pre-rendered content. It finds its origins in the gaming industry with real-time game engines from leading companies like Epic Games (Unreal Engine) and Unity. In RTR games the images and scenes are constantly and rapidly updated based on the movements and actions of players. For live events, it means that the graphics are being rendered live during the actual event. Its expansion to the live entertainment industry is partly made possible because of the improved CPU and GPU processing.

RTR increases the flexibility in the content planning workflow as content creators can more easily show the stakeholders what the end-result will look like. Additionally, it offers the freedom to make adjustments on the fly. RTR allows content creators to tweak some details as the customers change their mind last-minute or to quickly incorporate the colors of the winning (e-)sports team for instance. As everything is rendered on the spot there’s no storage or transfer of huge files needed. And as one would expect from a game-inspired technology, real-time rendering really steps up the interactivity levels at live events. Remember the psychedelic music visualization in Windows Media Player? Imagine that during a live event with pulsing visuals on the beats of the DJ-set. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg of the interactive content possibilities with real-time rendering.

Impact on experience technologies

Augmented/Mixed Reality

Virtual and augmented reality experiences are all about immersion. And the number one enemy of immersion is latency. The before-mentioned latency-reducing technologies are a real boost to scale AR applications to the live entertainment industry.

Tupac hologram at Coachella. Bringing mixed reality applications to the live events industry.

Augmented Reality is especially popular in the (e-)sports world increasing the stadium experience with AR elements displaying player’s positions, game highlights, or background information, similar to how a broadcaster would provide stats and fun facts on players and teams. But it’s also increasingly a big hit in music concerts and festivals. In 2012, Coachella amazed with a strong piece of mixed reality technology by bringing a hologram of Tupac on stage for a duet with Snoop Dogg. And in 2019, the legendary festival offered fans an interactive AR experience turning their Sahara tent into a cosmic spectacle with floating visuals of astronauts, planetary objects and space stations which also respond to the live musical performances in real-time.

Summary

In our previous post we talked about trends in audience expectations for events. Participatory experiences, dynamic storytelling and interactive content were some of the key words to remember. In this post we focused on the technological innovations that support those expectations. The introduction of 5G networks and the continuous improvement of CPU processing are two technology trends which serve as enablers of new optimized workflows (RTR) and exciting entertainment (AR). For the events of the future these technologies are sure to open a whole new realm of interactive, immersive, and impactful experiences!

Want to talk some more about technology and visualization for your live events? Let’s get in touch.

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