Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio December
BY Bob Walters
MORE WAYS TO USE HANDHELDS
The latest products let PDAs hold meeting databases and
share information with attendees
From the beginning of the PC era, creative
planners have used FileMaker to develop databases and manage
meeting details and registration. Now you can take your FileMaker
Pro meeting database with you on any personal digital assistant
that uses the Palm Operating System.
The $49 FileMaker Mobile lets users hot-sync a handheld to the
FileMaker Pro 5.X database on a PC. You will need a PDA using Palm
OS version 3.1 or higher and a minimum of 2 MB of memory. FileMaker
Mobile for the iMode is expected by the end of this year and for
Pocket PCs by early 2002.
To use FileMaker Mobile, define a simple database on your PC
with the fields and records you want to take with you, and transfer
these records to your handheld. FileMaker Mobile translates the
desktop layouts into list-view and record-view layouts optimized
for the device. You now have the power of your desktop PC to
perform tasks such as running reports, generating lists or
crunching data. The synchronization is bi-directional, so you can
add, delete or modify records on either the desktop or on your
handheld, and the changes will be reflected on both devices when
you sync using Palm’s standard HotSync Manager.
FileMaker Mobile is designed for individual users working with
single-user databases. Several developers are working on wireless
solutions, including wireless access to databases for work groups.
The actual capabilities for PDAs are impressive: Up to 50 databases
can be managed on a handheld, each with up to 20 fields per file,
2,000 characters per field, and 5,000 records per file (depending
on the capacity of your device).
By combining FileMaker Mobile, a handheld and one of the new
lightweight printers available for PDAs, you have a truly portable
A white paper on using Filemaker with a PDA, written by Mobile
Insights and called “Extending Database Reach With Mobile
Companions,” is available at www.filemaker.com/products/mbl_home.html.
SPREAD THE DATA
Several companies have solutions for planners who want to offer
electronic information to attendees from the show floor, near
registration or anywhere at the meeting.
Streetbeam (www.streetbeam.com) has released
RAMP (Rapid Access Mobile Point), which allows attendees to
download exhibitor or trade show information from a beaming
station. RAMP works with any Palm, Pocket PC or infrared-enabled
mobile phone to provide access to product or show information,
coupons, area maps, news and more. Show organizers can customize
the content, and exhibitors can place a beaming station in their
booth to disseminate flyers and company information, as well as to
capture electronic business cards from attendees.
BeamCast from IS/Complete (www.iscomplete.com) and BeamStation
from Pistachio Inc. (www.beamstation.com) can be set up
on-site to provide up-to-date event information to anyone with a
Palm-OS device. The International Association of Conference Centers
used BeamStation for its March 2001 annual conference; attendees
were able to download schedules and descriptions for the four-day
Other companies offering related services are Xportical (www.xportical.com), Applied Theory
Conference Planners (www.cplan.com), EventCentric (www.eventcentric.com)
and OpenGrid (www.opengrid.com).
Most of the providers will help you determine what content to
include; many also offer on-site support. These are fee-based
services, so be sure to get several quotes before choosing a
Walters, based in Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas, is the
founder of Phoenix Solutions and developer of MeetingTrak
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