I’ve worked as an exhibitor at dozens of industrial trade shows and conferences in the past, for the general industrial robotics market (Robot & Vision) to specific processes (Packaging, Assembly, Semiconductor, Solar, Medical Manufacturing, etc), so I know what it takes to prepare and staff a booth in the real world. But I’m not entirely sure what goes on for a virtual event.
Instead of talking face to face with someone about their technology, I’ll be “chatting live” with people from the company. This just conjures up memories of the online customer service from companies like Comcast.
Some of the presentations should be worthwhile – after all, it’s the same presentation whether I’m watching it in a room crammed with people or at my desk.
It’s the physicality of robots that I’m going to miss though. I’m in this industry because I like robots – I like making stuff move with just a program, I like the intricacy of the mechanical parts moving all together. The robotics world (industrial and mobile) was created by tinkerers and hands-on geeks, people who like to take things apart and make them better (or at least different). I don’t know if you can generate the same level of excitement about a gadget with a virtual conference.
Despite my reservations, I’ll be attending, and am looking forward to learning a bit. If you’re interested, check out the agenda, and register (it’s free so what have you got to lose). I’m curious to know what other people get out of it as well. I must say though, as an engineer at an industrial robotics company I’m a little more interested in the next conference, New Applications for Industrial Robotics on September 15. I’ll try to give a full report here of what I learn at the event, and how I think it goes.