Taking a large stand space just left of the front door, we put the whole stand together in about five working days. Everything from planning where the electrics would go, hiring lights, a van, getting the stand and hand outs designed and printed, even hiring a couple of staff for the three days. It was a risk, and it paid off considerably – even my patient other half had to rise at 5am with me on his birthday to have enough time to unwrap his birthday presents before driving me to the train station to get to Earls Court 2.
We travelled down on the Monday lunchtime to set up in the venue where blood was spilled (not mine, our Director’s) and electricians were spoken sympathetically to so we could get a power point moved as far as possible so our backdrop could go up. The lights didn’t fit the type of exhibition stand in use at Earls Court, so a slightly pricey hire and fitting later, we were able to head back to Biggleswade by train, happy everything was in place.
The stand’s design was mostly our Augmented artwork by Simon and Tony, using the three layer versions of the onvert with the original app. We held our breath that the 3G and visitor wifi in the venue was going to stay available, having hired a set of iPads for demo. Thankfully the 3G and the backup wifi were all working fine – and as visitors to our stand downloaded the app and played everything went smoothly.
It was hard to gauge how busy we would be after briefing our two assistants who came to join us for three days. Augmented Reality can be quite a tricky subject, and quite technical, but the huge advantage we had was that we could take people politely and show them. They could play and see how it worked and visually understand it. Seeing speaks far more than explaining Augmented Reality on paper, it sounds too abstract.
The first day went by quickly, we were very busy, and lots of people stopped to talk and try onvert out. Because we were not hard-selling our service (at that point the service was entirely free, the pro version features are in development) people felt happier to come and talk, and I found myself using the skills I’d developed as a charity collector and through Girlguiding UK to engage people and listen to their thoughts. In business meetings everything is quite formal and the interactions aren’t as brief as at an expo, you don’t find yourself persuading someone passing by to draw closer and see zombies walk out of the wall…
By the time we reached the office in Biggleswade each evening we brought back a huge number of business cards and leads. It was incredible to discover and exchange stories of talking to companies like ASDA, British Airways, Sky Sports, Samsung and Sony. The team at Biggleswade were working tirelessly to get the prototype app with animation ready in time to demo a spinning turntable, and an album cover with lightning and rain. They also set about compiling and sorting the leads and following up on feedback and queries. It was good to see my colleagues come and visit the expo briefly during the three days to see how things had turned out in person.
The onvert application was exposed to more than 11,000 participants at Internet World. During the three days, the app reached 100th out of 20,000 in “What’s Hot in the Apple App Store” as people downloaded the app and returned to play with the artwork and stand throughout the event.
Twitter was invaluable in those infrequent quiet moments and the commute to encourage attendees and stand owners to come by and try onvert at stand E3000, and also to attend Jason’s talk Augmented Reality – Why Super Powers Lead to Minor Injuries and Major Memory Loss. The slide art for which Simon was putting together back in Biggleswade. “Now that’s a decent title for a seminar!” someone tweeted.
When we managed to regroup at the end and look at the visitor stats in the end (keep in mind that we didn’t have a special scanner, so these were all leads we talked to and took notes from, and exchanged business cards with) we were pleased and surprised to find our visitors included: Sony, Samsung, ASDA, Network Rail, Waitrose, British Airways, Jaguar Land Rover, Barclaycard, Dermalogica, Panasonic, Black & Decker, Sky Sports, British Gas, KPMG, Ingram Micro, ikonami and over 200 more UK and foreign companies.