Making your voice heard

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Gone are the days when you’re at an event and told by the speaker to “please turn off all electronic devices”. Now, you’ll be hard done by spotting someone in a seminar audience without a smartphone or device, tweeting, recording or answering live polls via an app. How about an audience member talking into their device, and their voice being amplified around the room? Crowd Mics do that. It’s certainly an alternative option to positioning stand microphones around the room or passing around a microphone to hear from the audience. “Crowd Mics is the first and only app that turns the audience’s phones into wireless microphones,” Tim Holladay, CEO and co-founder of Crowd Mics tells EN. “People can literally talk into the phone and be heard over the sound system in the room. It’s all about audience engagement.” The iOS and Android app doesn’t require an Internet connection but needs the presenter and audience members to be connected to the same wireless router, which can be via a venue’s Wi-Fi or a stand-alone wireless router device. “My co-founder and brother Sean, and I were in a meeting together three years ago where there was a lot of interaction from the crowd and we simply couldn’t hear each other,” Holladay adds. “Sean leaned over and asked: “Hey can’t we just use our phones as microphones?”. That was the genesis of Crowd Mics. We then built the app over the next year and launched at the LAUNCH Festival in San Francisco in 2014.” With a client list comprising PayPal, Novartis, Salesforce, UBS, Think Conference and Vodafone, the firm is always looking how best to enhances audience engagement. Crowd Mics also has a text commenting feature and a life polling feature.What’s in the box? Catchbox also offers events an alternative solution to static microphones planted around a room, by simply acting as a ball or box that can be passed or thrown from one speaker to another. The professional wireless microphone communicates with a receiver that can be connected to any sound system. To avoid unwanted noises when being thrown around, internal electronics sense the motion of the cube and switch off the audio when it is caught, thrown, or dropped. The Finland-based company started when the three founders Pyry Taanila, Timo Kauppila and Mikelis Studers met at Aalto University’s Design Factory. Now microphones are thrown in different corners of the world, including at events organised by Google and TED talks, with their biggest customers in Europe and the US. According to the founders, Catchbox also encourages listeners to participate more than a traditional mic and gives audiences a voice like never before. Soundproofing Equally as important, every speaker at an event needs to be heard. Often, a solution to overcoming high levels of background noise during seminar presentations is to use a PA system to amplify the speaker’s voice, but surely this just adds to the overall noise levels? Aztec Event Services have invested around £50,000 in ‘silent seminar’ technology that delivers a speaker’s voice or an audio presentation via headsets plugged into individual pocket receivers. The audio signal is taken from the main PA and instead of being routed to amplifiers and speakers, it is sent to a number of ‘radiators’. These ‘radiators’ then use high frequency infra-red light waves to broadcast the signal to the pocket receivers. Almost as if the audience were in a silent disco, members have a personal volume control, and can hear the presentation in clear audio wherever they are sitting, while the headset helps to screen out peripheral sounds. Sophisticated technologies like these are helping to deliver better and audio-clear experiences at events. The quirkier the better, we say.   This article was first published in the October issue of EN. Any comments? Email Annie Byrne
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