RFID: The Next Best Thing in Event Technology?
Now that we’re all Facebooking and tweeting like we’ve been doing it all our lives, there’s a new twist to the social media scene that adds a whole new dimension to events.
We’re talking about Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), which is starting to be used at events all over the world.
The idea is that a tiny microchip is embedded in an item that the participant carries with them, such as an ID card or bracelet. The chip allows users to send out signals that show where the person is, what they’re doing and how they’re feeling. The results show up automatically on the person’s Facebook wall or Twitter feed, so you can actually interact with social media without a computer or smartphone.
One of the most successful implementations of this type took place last summer in Israel. Every year, Coca Cola sponsors a Coca Cola Village for 650 teenagers, a fun-filled experience that includes water games, massages and other social activities. This time they injected another element: instant social media. (Seevideo.)
Participants were given a wristband with an implanted RFID chip that contained each individual’s Facebook address and password. As they wandered through the village or experienced an activity, they were able to swipe their wristbands across RFID readers located through the village. Each swipe sent a status report to the person’s Facebook page, letting friends and families know what the teen was experiencing. There were more than 35,000 updates each day, a staggering number considering that there were only 650 kids at the event.
Another example of RFID use at events is a social gaming app called theEpic Mix, that was introduced by Vail Resorts in Colorado. The chip was placed in season passes to a collection of resorts. As skiers arrived at the slopes, their passes were swiped. Then, their locations and activities were posted to social sites. The chip also kept track of how many miles they skied, where their friends were and any special accomplishments. This program even awards achievement pins for various milestones such as being the first on the chairlifts.
A company called Mojix specializes in RFID solutions for the supply/demand chain for manufacturers, but they are now dipping their toes into the events industry. Mojix has teamed with InSynch Software to launch an application calledSmartEvents. SmartEvents uses RFID data at tradeshows and other events to capture lead information and deliver requested information to the participant. At the same time, it captures real-time traffic patterns that the show organizers can provide to sponsors and exhibitors.
The implications are truly astounding for event planners. Can you picture your attendees swiping readers at your event, letting friends know where they are and what they’re doing without fumbling with a cell phone or iPad? It’s also a great way to build brand awareness, discover what people like at your event, and what they don’t.
What are some other ways you see this technology being used? Send in your ideas, and we’ll share them in the next issue!