Audience response keypads aren't a new idea: Attendees are each given a small keypad with which to answer questions. They can pick yes or no, or punch in a number that correlates to choices of answers, usually projected on a screen. The audience's choices are tabulated by an on-site computer, then graphically displayed on the screen as bar graphs or pie charts. It takes about three seconds once polling is over to get the results on the screen.
Pretty neat, but it gets better. The latest generation is wireless, an improvement that has increased the cost a bit but has made it infinitely more flexible and practical. It used to be that every pad was attached to thick cable, which added set-up time and precluded quick room changes.
Now, when it's time for an audience response session, the small keypads (about 3 inches by 7 inches) can be passed out. No big deal. Users send out a radio signal when they hit the keypad, which is captured by an electronic receiver (attached to a host computer).
Stage America, Inc. is among the companies that rent or sell systems. For a one-day meeting with150 participants, here's how Stage America estimates rental costs: $5,650 for keypads, radio frequency receiver, and Stage America software that can produce the graphics as well as handle unlimited demographic cross-tabs and impromptu questions; plus $900 for a technical support person for two days (including travel time, rehearsal, and actual event); plus the cost of shipping. For more information, contact Stage America, 4403 Vineland Road, Suite B-4, Orlando, FL 32811; (407) 872-3333.