Recently I attended the Financial Times World Telecoms Conference in London.  Upon registration, I picked up my delegate badge and was ushered towards an interesting machine that contained a camera and small LCD screen.  My photograph was taken by the camera, and I was handed a “spotme” machine.

As I walked into the conference room and sat down at the back of the room I started to play with it.  What I quickly discovered was that all of the other delegate’s information (and their photograph) had been uploaded to the machine.

With one ear on the conference, I proceeded to scroll through the delegate names – listed by company, title etc – all searchable.  As each spotme device has an RFID function, you can turn on the “radar” function and see who’s nearby and match up the name with the photo – brilliant for spotting that CEO you want to talk to but have never met.  You can also send short messages to the user’s terminal.

One of the best functions is the “people spotter”.  You can select a delegate and set it to “spotter” mode.  When they come in range, the machine vibrates.  This feature actually came in handy as I had arranged to meet a new contact at the show, but had no idea what he looked like.  I had selected him from the list and set him to “people spotter” mode.  As soon as I walked into the conference room near the registration desk – there he was!  An instant introduction.

As we spoke more, we used the “business card exchange” function and beamed each other our cards (we also swapped paper cards as a backup) and this was then available on a portal after the event.

In summary, a great tool that added an extra dimension to the conference and made networking much easier.  The downside was that I had to wait over a week and a half to have the portal details emailed me so I could download all the people I had spotted.

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