I often speak about the need to challenge the basic assumptions of a conference in order to improve the event’s experience, and one of these assumptions is that you need a big screen so that the speaker can show his slides, etc.
A common deterrent to change the way an event develops is the lack of tools that conference organizers have access to, specially in events with small budgets. Now the “App Economy” is providing many of those tools at a very low price and Idea Flight (website, iTunes, twitter) is an example of his.
Idea Flight is an iPad App developed by magazine incumbent Conde Nast that enables a presenter to run his presentation from his iPad and have up to 14 other iPads following it through the same wifi network (or 3 in total via Bluetooth). While it’s not yet ready for being used in large conferences, it might become very useful in your next corporate meeting and maybe sometime soon enough it will scale up to allow more simultaneous users.
Idea Flight lets one person (the Pilot) use their iPad to control a presentation to an audience (their Passengers) to other iPads via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. This does not require additional cameras, equipment, dongles, connectors or wires. The transfer happens so the Pilot has complete control over whether or not the Passengers have access to a hard copy. As a Pilot, one swipes through their presentation at their speed and can lock and unlock the content for Passenger to browse at their will. Files can be accessed via Dropbox, iTunes file sharing, email, or Keynote.
It currently only accepts documents in PDF format, which can conveniently be obtained by exporting a document from both Apple’s Keynote and Microsoft’s PowerPoint (and several other programs). Hopefully other formats will follow soon.
A nifty feature from Idea Flight is the integration with Linkedin profiles. Attendees can make their profile visible to the other attendees so that they can exchange their professional details without needing paper business cards.
The App is free for “passengers”, e.i. people that follow the presentation. To enable the “pilot” function you need to make an in-App purchase that costs 5.99 euro.
As I mentioned before, for the time being the App is limited to only one format (PDF), one device (iPad) and the amount of people that can be included in a presentation (15 wifi, 3 bluetooth).
Fixes to increase the usefulness
Hopefully, Idea Flight will soon be available for other mobile devices (tablets) but also laptops. I often carry my 11″ macbook air to meetings, instead of the iPad.