Trade fairs and industry events: they are places of exchange, meeting, trend analysis and inspiration. However, with new physical-distancing rules in effect, many people are asking some questions. How will we interact at these events in the future? How can we shrewdly use design and innovation to develop new concepts? The agency ad modum looked for answers to these questions through an international creative competition that it organises. Below are the three winners and a further selection of fascinating submissions.

Matthias Reiser, Managing Director of ad modum and the competition’s organiser, is enthusiastic about the projects. He says,

“The jury, the agency and I were truly fascinated by the ideas that were submitted. They are seismographs for society, since each one of the top 15 entries reveals the connections between design, communication and altered communication as if they were self-evident. The ideas demonstrate a natural and innovative fusion of technology and design par excellence, offering food for thought for a new society.”

First place: Ray Guidance – heat map warning system

The winner of the competition is the Ray Guidance design from Uli Wagner Design Lab in New York. A heat map available to view on smart devices is created by employing heat-sensitive cameras at trade fair displays. Visitors see the latest areas that are better off avoided due to crowding. Additional orientation is provided in the form of colour-coded laser light barriers which indicate areas that are risky and areas that are harmless depending on their current status. Accordingly, they offer visitors direct points of orientation. A multisensory approach combining modern technology and smart communication.


Second place: Give Me a Sign – communication with time-proven colour coding

Second place goes to a concept by Nicola Roanna Garbers that draws on the internationally proven red/amber/green colour-coding system. With the purpose of signalising one’s communication intentions, trade fair attendees incorporate the relevant colour in their outfit to let others know about their preferred form of interaction. Red stands for conversations exclusively with a mask and physical distancing in public fair spaces; amber means conversations with a mask and distancing as well as an openness to personal conversations in a meeting room. Meanwhile, green signalises that the attendee is receptive to “pre-Covid”-style conversations while following local laws.


Third place: Stargate – the trade fair portal

Third place goes to the visionary idea of the Stargate trade fair portal by Nik Burmester and Phillip Kaszubowski (Burmester Event- und Medientechnik GmbH). The vision calls for the full utilisation of technological possibilities, with a large, high-definition LED wall set up in the trade fair hall – and more in other trade fair halls around the world. Cameras and microphones integrated into the video wall capture the trade fair displays, which can then be broadcast to the other trade fair portals in real time. It is also possible to interact and communicate through the screen, enabling an international trade fair experience despite geographical distance.


Additional ideas for the new trade fair experience

Trade Fair Tinder: find your match!

The idea of finding a partner digitally has been translated for a trade fair visit with the Trade Fair Tinder concept. A concept that often bears fruit in private life, so why should it not work in a professional context? Whether you want to make new contacts in the industry or discuss a specific topic, Trade Fair Tinder makes it possible to plan the chance encounters that will likely become rarer due to physical-distancing rules.


Auto Scouter dodgems: trade fair experience meets driving experience

An approach that responds to distancing rules with the fun of driving is the Auto Scouter dodgem concept. A live power grid is laid inside the trade fair hall and attendees are given individual dodgem cars. Attendees keep their distance, crowding is prevented in the corridors and the number of visitors at a display is regulated by a specified number of parking spaces. The dodgem navigation system shows the fastest route to the next customer and when a parking spot is free.


#stayconnected: smart trade fair app

The #stayconnected trade fair app makes it possible to plan a trade fair visit better and adjust plans for the day based on how busy displays, restaurants and special-experience areas are. Users connect with their social networks through the app and plan the stops, destinations and time spent during their trade fair visit. Exhibitors can be added during the visit, and the app also calculates capacities and displays options for passing the time when waiting.


Trade Fair Mobile: an individual, mobile meeting point

The idea behind the Trade Fair Mobile combines the features of staying mobile, keeping a distance and engaging in safe communication. Mobile cabins are fitted with swivel chairs, folding tables and adjustable glass panels, and feature an integrated communication system as well as filtered ventilation in the ceiling. If attendees wish to converse, the cabins can be magnetically connected to form clusters for two to four people. They are automatically disinfected after use. A mobile meeting room and health protector in one.


DIVOC2020: personal aerosol extraction tool

A chuckle-inducing idea: the DIVOC2020 is a personal mobile extraction system for aerosol particles. Particles are captured and held within the device. While the feasibility of the product is still in question, it certainly lacks neither creativity nor trend awareness. The DIVOC2020, according to its concept plan, is available in different designs depending on industry, age (at heart) and sunglasses, and includes a business card holder, charging station for all devices and light-up nameplate.

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