RFID Wristbands are popping up everywhere. As the wristbands become cheaper, there are a growing number of creative minds brainstorming for cool things to do with it. Which is great because, used correctly, RFID technology has the potential to generate a level of mass personal and social engagement and interactivity that simply could not exist before.
20 years ago, to engage a prospective customer and have them advocate or promote your brand would be a mammoth task; now it can all be done with the swipe of a wristband. Likewise, collecting data was a painstaking task, and now it is achieved simply by offering a prize and then watching the data person walk in and swipe their wristband. It’s incredible.
But as of October 2014, what are some of the coolest uses of RFID wristbands that we have seen? First of all, let’s cross off the basics, but with a few interesting twists:
Use RFID Wristbands to Like Stuff
The bread and butter of RFID at events is the ability to “like” stuff via your social media account, whether it is Facebook or whatever is awesome right now! By swiping your wristband at a booth or similar, your status is automatically updated. But how can this be applied in more interesting ways?
Two different events stand out to us. The first was an event that had scanners near a range of cocktails at the bar. As attendees tried the cocktails, they could scan their RFID wristbands at the appropriate scanner to say they liked it, but this also triggered the recipe to be sent to their email address. This is great because a) we just love cocktails, b) you love cocktails and c) cocktails are the best! But really, this is a cool use of the “like” function.
A fashion event had male models walking around holding/presenting dresses. Attendees could swipe their RFID wristbands at the passes dresses (or models, whatever they liked!) and automatically be sent information on the dress. Not only is this cool for the attendees, but the fashion company’s collected great data about current fashion trends, at least on a small scale.
The key really is this – make it super simple for guests to like stuff, and make it fun.
RFID tags on sexy half-naked people
This may go hand in hand with the cocktail idea we just mentioned! The Baja Beach Club in Barcelona is a pretty exclusive hangout. They’ve started grafting tags to patrons as they enter the club, allowing for fast access but also fast payment, as the tag also acts as a debit card. Many patrons party there in their swimsuits, so having to carry around a bag or wallet can be awkward. We only wonder whether a guest gets to choose exactly where their RFID tag is grafted to! Not sure I’d want guests swiping and swinging certain things around the venue!
RFID Tags at Races
Quite a few races have started using RFID transponders as part of their timing systems. Competitors have the tag attached to their shoe, bike etc and as they run through certain points, or over special mats, the signal is received. When a photo finish won’t quite do the trick, this method of RFID tracking just might!
Use RFID to find your balls. Ahem. Golf balls.
If your losing your balls often (not a reference to the Baha Beach Club!) on the golf course, then you have no doubt screamed to the heavens, knee deep in scrub “when will someone develop an RFID ball tracking system!”. The problem with this has always been two things; firstly, it’s quite expensive to have long read RFID chips implanted in golf balls and most importantly, why would golf ball manufacturers want you to keep the same 12 balls all year when you could be buying 100?
Nonetheless, Prazza has entered the market with a system they claim allows golfers to track and recover their balls. The balls are equipped with chips and the golfer also receives a hand held scanning/detection unit.
It hasn’t really caught on much yet, but still, as someone who loses A LOT of golf balls, this is interesting, and pretty cool.
Our favourite use – just brilliant
Now THIS we really like. At the New York Marathon, competitors used RFID tags as per the above to monitor their performance. What the organisers did next though, took it to another level. They allowed friends and family to record video messages for the competitor, which were activated on large screens at various points on the race as the scanning mats received the signal from the runner!
What a great motivator seeing your partner, child or parent urging you on just as you’re starting to hit that wall! More than 7,000 runners had messages recorded for them, originating from 17 countries. Love it!
Oh wait, this might be our favourite! Wine reviews with a tap!
It can be great wandering the aisles at your favourite wine cellar or supermarket and just taking your time to look at what is available, trying your best to pretend that you MIGHT buy that $50 wine before you settle on something ‘a little’ cheaper. But perusing the labels, reading the descriptions “a hint of wistful vanilla!”, is just a great way to consume 30 minutes. The problem comes when you see something you want to try but you really don’t know if it’s any good.
Of course, the old way was to simply buy the wine, drink it and make up your own mind, but not anymore. Not with technology here to help! NFC tags (RFID’s cousin) are being installed at some cellars that allow you to tap them with your phone, bringing up reviews and notes of the wine. No more drinking something that could peel paint off the walls!
The final word
There are some great uses of RFID wristbands and NFC technology being developed and explored all over the world. Keep your eye out for new uses and let us know! And if you think of one for yourself, let us know too – we’ll give you a free plug on this blog!
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