Economy, Auto

Detroit Auto Show Goes Tech Crazy

Detroit Auto Show Goes Tech Crazy
Detroit Auto Show Goes Tech Crazy

As cars edge ever closer to talking and even thinking for themselves, the Detroit North American International Auto Show is evolving to catch the same fever.

Technologies such as autonomous driving and connectivity are playing a more critical role in the auto show. Exhibitors, booth builders, media companies and show organizers say this year’s event, the 28th since the Detroit show became an international showcase, is designed to give attendees the “experiential” treatment, Auto News America reports.

The new additions for 2016 even include a relationship with social media giant Twitter Inc. and coverage by tech website CNET.

“We realized with cars now being synonymous with technology and connectivity, we had to get in that game, too,” said Rod Alberts, executive director of NAIAS and the Detroit Auto Dealers Association. “Everything we’ve done this year, and it’s a lot, is changing with the times.”

Alberts noted that with roughly 70% of the automaker displays newly designed for NAIAS 2016, the technology efforts are critical additions.

George P. Johnson Co., an event and brand marketing firm based in Auburn Hills, Mich., near Detroit, designed roughly 40% of the displays for NAIAS 2016.

Paul Hemsworth, vice president and executive creative director at George P. Johnson, said the concept of brand awareness has transformed and tech trends have changed the way companies interact with auto show attendees.

“Everyone (clients) has different requirements and budgets, but what they all want is to create an intimate level of interaction with the nearly million visitors at the show,” Hemsworth said.

“Technology has been a big aid in meeting those demands and creating something that goes beyond brand awareness to something experiential for the show attendees.”

For GPJ’s largest client, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, the firm created specialized media content as well as a significant investment to turn the automaker’s 60,000 square feet into an illuminated motion sculpture, Hemsworth said.

“It took a deep bench of programmers and technical direction staff to pull this off. We expect it to be the talk of the show.”

But it’s behind the scenes that GPJ will be producing the biggest return on investment for its automaker clientele.

The firm, without confirming whether the technology will be used at NAIAS, uses beacon technology to track movements of auto show attendees.

“Beacon technology provides instant feedback from attendees’ smartphones on where they spent the most time in a display and what their potential car buying preferences are,” Hemsworth said.