The world's largest trade fair is set to start its 2011 edition in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou this week - and its opening will herald a brave new digital world for exhibition goers, according to organizers.
The 109th China Import and Export Fair - more commonly known as the Canton Fair - kicks off on April 15 and has become so large that it is now spread over three sessions, twice a year, while its exhibits cover every form of industry on the planet.
The fair fills up an estimated 1.2 million square meters of space inside Guangzhou's sprawling China Import & Export Fair Complex and annually attracts more than 23,000 exhibitors either shopping their wares to China, or sourcing goods from the country itself.
While the event's website has vowed to post updates on happenings at the fair this year, it is the people on the ground in Guangzhou who really matter. And this year they will be making use of the roll-out of new technology designed to make finding their way around all that more easy.
After test runs at smaller events in China, the Israeli-designed ExpoBee ( http://corporate.expobee.com) device will help the Canton Fair go digital.
Visitors receive a digital badge when entering the fair, and then they can scan any object that takes their fancy. From there a link to an online portal will produce all the information they want to know about the product - and the people who have made it.
"So now you come to the show, all the products are there, all of them are tagged, and when the buyer comes we give each of them their badges, which they can go around with and scan any product they like. Once they scan it, it automatically goes into to a report that is generated for them," ExpoBee's Motti Kleinmann told the Jerusalem Post.
The first Canton Fair was held in 1957 and was originally designed to link businesses across China. In recent years however it has opened its doors to the world and now attracts an estimated two million visitors.
April 15-19, April 23-27, May 1-5
China Import & Export Fair Complex, Guangzhou