Scheduling for the APS fall meetings will be a little more portable this year. APS has signed a contract to develop smart-phone apps to help attendees plan their meeting schedules. The interactive apps will let users pick out sessions to attend, while reducing the need for bulky meeting programs.
“It’s another way to access the program on site,” said APS Meetings Abstracts Coordinator Vinaya Sathyasheelappa. “We have the technology–we might as well use it.”
The upcoming apps will let users access meeting abstracts, maps and exhibitor lists from their smart phones. In addition, the apps will feature a personal scheduler and will be able to be updated in real time should there be a change to the original program. The new apps are planned to be ready for this fall’s DNP, DPP and GEC meetings.
“It will electronically deliver the abstracts and the agenda,” said Sara Conners, Web Manager at APS. “We’re hoping to cut down on printing costs in the future.”
APS is contracting with CrowdCompass, an online app developer with over 100 apps already available for iPhones and Android phones. CrowdCompass specializes in apps for meeting attendees, and has developed them for Pittcon, the largest annual conference for the laboratory sciences, as well as for the New York Comic Con.
The apps that APS plans on developing with the company will be primarily off-line, meaning that they will not have to be connected to the internet in order to run. The idea is that users will be able to download the entire meeting schedule about a week before each meeting. Internet connectivity in large conference centers is often spotty, so meeting attendees will still be able to use the apps when there is no Wi-Fi connection. When internet connectivity is available, the app will download any updates to the schedule.
“Smart phones are so prevalent it just seemed like a no-brainer,” said Conners.
Scheduling apps released by APS last spring have been embraced by the membership. The March Meeting iPhone app was downloaded 2,306 times, a high rate for a meeting with 8,000 attendees. Similarly the app for the April Meeting, which had about 1,000 attendees, was downloaded 659 times. By the time of the DAMOP meeting in June, APS had expanded to include apps for Google’s Android phones. All told, 281 people downloaded apps for the 1,000 person meeting. July’s 600 person Shock Compression meeting had 208 downloads.
Conners said that APS’s web department is also looking towards developing a single app that can be downloaded for all of its meetings.
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