Envision at ATIA 2022 – What I learnt from my first in-person conference since the pandemic?

And what this could mean for the other physical Assistive Technology conferences coming up in 2022?

July 5, 2022

I was excited about flying out to be present at ATIA in Florida for two reasons. Firstly, to escape the increasingly gloomy and rainy weather of the Netherlands. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, to finally attend a physical event, and interact with people in person after two years of staring at a screen to make a connection.

ATIA is an annual exhibition and conference organized by the Assistive Technology Industry Association, of which Envision is a member. As the name suggests, this conference brings together industry professionals from around the world under one roof for the exchange of knowledge, innovation, and business. After two years of participating in this event virtually, this was the first in-person ATIA since the pandemic first struck in 2020.

I arrived in Orlando the day before ATIA started in order to overcome any jet lag before the event. As soon as my taxi pulled out of the airport, I heard the splatter of raindrops on my window and when I looked out I saw dark clouds reminiscent of the ones I thought I had left back at home. This sinking emotion was soon uplifted when I went to collect my badges at the event location and was greeted by a cheerful crowd. The excitement was palpable and the energy was abundant. When I sat down at the cafe nearby, I could overhear the shrieking hellos and hugs of old colleagues and friends who were meeting each other in person after what seemed like ages.

The day of the event finally arrived. As the sun‘s rays started piercing through the clouds, people started pouring into the exhibit halls. The first day was extremely promising. Our North American Territory Manager, Robert Serian, and I worked the Envision booth giving demonstrations of Envision Glasses to attendees, who were all very excited about the product and its life-changing capabilities. By the end of the day, we had lost our voice and both our devices and we need to recharge.

Every demonstration we did was met with stunned expressions and exclamations like “That seems unreal”, “Woah that’s so cool” and “This is incredible”. That is when I realized, that even though we had launched Envision Glasses about a year ago, the pandemic had significantly impacted how we have been able to get out and raise awareness in the assistive tech and support industry. Many visitors to our booth were surprised not yet to have heard of us. This goes to show just how crucial events like ATIA are for building awareness of new technological advancements and products in the industry.

Robert from Envision speaking with a vistors at our booth
Sam from The Blind Life taking a selfie in front of the Envision booth with Jose.
Robert from Envision demonstrating the Envision Glasses to a TV crew

In addition to spreading awareness of our disruptive assistive technology products, ATIA was the perfect platform for us to interact with organizations who were very interested in our new service: Envision for Enterprise. With this offering, organizations and employers can make their workspace and workflows more accessible for low vision and blind employees. Envision’s products, in combination with our customizable software platform, are a powerful value proposition for many who want to make their workplaces more accessible, tap into new pools of talent and increase productivity. With Envision, employers can also offer career progression by enabling people to take on roles and tasks not previously available to them. Envision for Enterprise attracted the attention from a wide range of organizations during ATIA, including large multinationals and a local warehousing company with whom we will soon be starting pilots. I look forward to sharing more news on that soon.

Annika (from Florida Vision Technology), Jose (from Florida Vision Technology), Robert (from Envision), Lesa (from Florida Vision Technology) and Karthik (from Envision) wearing the Envision Glasses and posing for a picture at our booth.

In the subsequent days at ATIA, the crowd slowly thinned out. According to show veterans, the crowd we were seeing was about a quarter of what it used to be in the pre-pandemic glory days. Though we would have loved to see more crowd and interact with a lot more people, I was happy that we had a good quality of small interactions which could have a great snowball effect. It seems to be a step in the right direction and paints an optimistic picture of what we can expect from events such as this for the rest of the year.

So in conclusion, my experience at ATIA was just like my experience with the weather in Florida. It was nice to be out of the cold winters of the Netherlands and even though the sun wasn’t plenty, it was enough to make us feel warm and optimistic that spring is just around the corner.

Robert and Karthik from Envision, standing in front of our booth and smiling for the camera.

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