RFID Wristbands: The Future of Events and Festivals

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The story below highlights an end user’s personal experience using RFID wristbands at music festivals including social media integration, access management, and cashless payments & ticketing. Does your event meet today’s event goer’s technology standards? If you’re not sure, you may want to consider implementing an RFID wristband system.  

story originally featured on PrintSome.com, published Feb. 6, 2014

By Using RFID wristbands event organisers can track data in real time and follow and engage in the conversations about their event through social media

It was at the STRP art festival in Eindhoven back in 2010 that I first experienced the power of RFID (short for radio-frequency identification) technology. Their eSphere system allowed people to express opinions and feelings about the present artworks. While looking at an art installation, you could connect with your RFID wristband to a computer kiosk and answer questions about your opinion of the work. And if you initially set-up your eSphere profile to be connected with your Facebook and Twitter accounts, it would appear on there as well. And that was not all – the eSphere system gathered all feedback and created special tag-clouds of each artefact that appeared in real-time under its description.

Connecting physical objects of reality with the virtual space is becoming the trend of this decade. RFID technology seems like one of the leading platforms to achieve just that. So here are a few other examples of it working at big festivals or events:

Cashless Payment & Ticketless Access

Festivals like Coachella, Isle of Wight, Rock in Rio and Tomorrowland have a proven record of using RFID wristbands to manage access to their areas, reducing long queues and taking a load of the responsibility off security and ticket fraud professionals. Coachella even had all passes for staff and performers done via such wristbands. Beyond access management, event organizers are also flirting with the possibility of using the wristband infrastructure for cashless payment. Take Isle of Wight festival in 2011 where more than 10,000 visitors made purchases simply by waving their hand over the readers using pre-paid RFID wristbands. The trend seems to be catching on with Tomorrowland having nearly 60,000 people wearing such smart wristbands last year.

Branding & Social Media

In addition to logistics management, RFID technology has other positives. As with the STRP art festival, wristbands are becoming one of the major ways to engage audiences in all kinds of social marketing ventures. At the Bonnaroo in 2013, visitors could link their wristbands with their Facebook, take pictures at photo booths and upload them online, letting all their friends know what are they up to at the festival. They could also upload their favourite playlists from their Spotify accounts or tweet directly via their Twitter account. All of this provided organizers with huge amounts of valuable personalization and socializing data for next year’s event.

The moral of this story is that while people enjoy quicker, easier and more social way of moving around the festival, organizers get important insights on what went wrong and what hit the target, both, real-time and for future use. Serge Grimaux from Intellitix, one of the major providers of RFID technology, explains that wristbands are even important for paramedics as people often don’t carry any form of identification and a simple scan of their wristband can, potentially, give the information necessary for paramedics to deal with any problems that arise.

Access management, cashless payment, valuable marketing data and real-time monitoring are all great benefits that RFID is able to provide with a single swoosh of the wrist at a reader. Festivals are an important player in experimenting with further possibilities of this technology, but are not the only one: retail stores, art galleries and museums are also designing their own wristbands and other RFID merchandise in order to benefit from this real-time gate to a person’s lifestyles and experiences.



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