Meetings/Events Need an Innovation Centre
I got the opportunity during my time in Minneapolis/St. Paul (for Event Camp Twin Cities) to visit the 3M Innovation Center. Part of a sprawling campus, it is where 3M showcases highlights of their history, recent innovations and how those innovations evolved from former products or from collaboration between their different technology units. For example, a display that is very thin coated with glass beads was a product of collaboration between their dental technology department and their lighting technologists. It got me thinking about possibilities for the events industry, so here’s a bit of a brain dump.
I got to see some very cool things that could have a positive impact on sustainability in the events industry, particularly in the area of lighting but also – possibly – noise reduction. There is a piece of adhesive material which, when attached to the back of a cymbal, completely deadens the sound when it is struck. Its primary use is in reducing vehicle road noise, while still enabling them to be made of lighter materials (reducing the weight of the car and, consequently, fuel use). But I was thinking about those moveable walls so endemic in convention centres and other meeting facilities. Their problem is noise bleed. What if there was an easy-to-apply fix in the way of an adhesive covering that reduced or eliminated sound bleed?
I am of course not sure if this can be done, but what a fabulous thing if it could. There are few things more annoying to attendees and presenters than having noise bleed in from surrounding rooms and presenters.
The coatings they produce that diffuse light more effectively also help to reduce energy use. I saw a TV that used half as many watts as a regular TV because the light was intensified by interior coatings. It also operates with far less loss of heat energy. Coatings like this in AV and other tech apps not only reduce the amount of energy the appliances use, they reduce the need to cool the facility due to heat produced. Because the appliances are lighter, it costs less (and takes less energy) to ship them, and because they are simpler, they are easier to repair.
I appreciated the opportunity to see the facility. Just being in an innovation facility seemed to produce more questions and generate possible linkages. Maybe instead of the plethora of conferences, the meetings industry should create an innovation center like this to share information, cool stuff, and generate possibilities. It would have to involve companies outside of the industry, to bring new ideas to how we can sustainably move forward with cool, energy-saving technology and other new innovations in communication and collaboration.
Companies or organizations would simply post challenges that they are dealing with. People could come together to help solve those challenges. The beauty of this is that it could be done either live or virtually, or a combination of both – a hybrid innovation centre focused on meetings and events.