Knowledge for Growth - A Learning Experience

by Annelies Guisset

This event offers a great opportunity for networking in the life sciences sector, getting to know interesting people and showcasing our skills and services - this year especially, as this is our first time being part of the conference as an exhibitor.

About Annelies

Besides a love for movies and editing, Annelies extends the XAOP horizon with skills in communication and design. Most of her life she spent abroad, but we're happy she decided to settle down in Belgium and join our team. She's a very calm person but just don't confuse her for a Trekkie any time soon.

It’s early morning on May 26th 2016, and a cascade of chatter coated with the smell of hot coffee fills the air at the Knowledge for Growth 2016 event at the ICC Ghent conference building.

Tucked behind and to the side of the fine arts museum S.M.A.K., ICC Ghent is situated in what is called the ‘cultural kilometer of Ghent’. In other words, it provides a most suitable setting for the 12th edition of FlandersBio’s annual life sciences convention and XAOP is one of the stand exhibitors present this year.

Since this is our first time as exhibitor at a conference like this, we want to make a bold and lasting impression; we want to not only inform people about our company and services, but also to introduce them to our team in a fun, engaging way. So instead of flyers, we created an interactive game using Leap Motion technology. The goal of the game, called Omada, is to assemble the most effective team with as few team members as possible (more detailed information on the Omada game will be released soon as a case study on our website). Our initial setup includes a large, custom-made cardboard cabinet (co-designed and created by Dataprint) to house all of the technical materials. This box allows us to both store all of the background equipment needed to run the game as well as to display the leap motion device and the short-throw projector. Unfortunately, due to the way the booths are constructed, some of the text in the game becomes unreadable when projected. So instead of using the projector, we display the game on our widescreen TV.

So instead of flyers, we created an interactive game using Leap Motion technology.

Around 10am, participants start to seep into the hall area downstairs after attending the first round of lectures. Initially, there are just a few of them, but then a whole stream of them come in at once and flood the halls. Most of them are either wearing backpacks and jeans or freshly ironed business outfits. Nearly all of them have either a slice of cake or a cookie and napkin in hand. Our booth is located in a quiet corner of the hall and overlooks the student poster stands. The bar is just a few quick strides away. A few people know exactly what or whom they’re looking for, but the majority of the crowd is meandering about, letting their gaze wander across the booths. Most of the booths are set up in a tried-and-true fashion: flyers and posters pinned to the walls, a table filled with brochures and giveaways facing the crowd. Some of them stand out - there is a booth with blue balloons, a few featuring real medical supplies and applications, and one with a make-your-own Gin-Tonic set. Yet there are only two or three booths (including ours) who use the available space in an interactive way using advanced technology.

Our bright smiles and the flashing startup screen of our monitor draw a lot of eyes our way. Over the course of the day - with regular intervals when the hall empties out for the lectures - quite a few people amble over to our stand. Some are unsure and ask us with a polite smile what it is exactly that we do in software. Others stride on over to talk business followed by an exchange of cards and handshakes. Nearly all of them, however, can’t help but steal glances at the white cardboard box and the flashing screen that dares them to play. We’re happy to assist those who are brave enough to try Omada. Though the game experiences a few technical hiccups throughout the day, everybody who plays it seems genuinely entertained and curious about this innovative technology. They reach out their hands above the cardboard box containing the Leap Motion device to point, swipe, and grab their way through the game, chuckling as they do so.

Nearly all of them, however, can’t help but steal glances at the white cardboard box and the flashing screen that dares them to play.

By the time we decide to pack up and head home, the leaderboard has started to fill up and our stack of business cards has diminished significantly. We make a note of all the people and conversations and discuss what we can improve on next time. As we start loading in our gear, I look around the hall one last time and consider that this event was definitely worth the weeks of work and the sore feet. To conclude, we’ll be back next year for the Knowledge for Growth 2017 conference, no doubt with another engaging technological project to demonstrate what we’re capable of. Will you be there, too?