RFID Technology in the Live Events Industry

In our now post-pandemic world, we take a look at the future of the live events industry, specifically the use of RFID technology within this industry.
What is RFID technology?  How does it work?  And why will it be essential in the future of live events?

What is RFID?

RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. RFID technology involves transmitting the identity of an RFID-enabled object using radio waves. The technology has special readers or scanners which captures data from  RFID-enabled objects and transmits it to a back-end computer system from a distance.

In recent years, the live entertainment industry has seen an increased usage of RFID technology in the form of wristbands – at music festivals, water parks, conventions – from being able to tap and pay for drinks to posting pictures on social media.

What happens when an RFID wristband is scanned?

When scanned (tapped/read), the RFID scanner transmits an encoded radio signal which identifies a unique tag in a back-end computer system, explains ID&C. Within a millisecond, the RFID tags receive the transmission and respond with a unique identification number.

An easily-confused, every-day comparison of RFID technology could be to barcode scanners, used in commercial spaces to scan products when shopping etc. However, RFID technology and barcodes are very different.

What is inside an RFID wristband?

An RFID wristband contains a unique RFID chip and antenna, called the smart-tag which can be in the form of a visible micro-SD card enclosed in hard plastic (to protect the chip). Other RFID wristbands look to be made of vinyl or plastic, but they are thicker up close and have the microchip underneath. The third kind of RFID wristbands are made of silicone or cloth, and can even have the chip hidden or embedded in the wristband material itself.

There are three types of tags that RFID technology uses

  • Passive – These tags are active only when energy is transmitted by the reader for power and have no built-in battery, commonly used for large scale events like music festivals
  • Active – These tags have a built-in battery and can transmit information regularly without having to be powered by a reader
  • Battery-assisted – These tags contain batteries but are designed to power the tag only when in proximity to a reader.

How much data can be stored on an RFID wristband?

RFID tags can store data ranging from identification credentials, purchasing credits, coupons, access control into hotels or VIP areas, and even social media information. Hence a person with an RFID wristband can choose to have their activity or photos posted on their social media automatically.

These different forms of information require very little data to hold them, so the biggest passive RFID tags can store up to 3720 bytes, or 3.72 KB of information which is enough to hold personal data and credentials.

What kind of data can an RFID wristband collect?

Event organizers equip RFID technology to get real-time analytics of how attendees move about and interact with the event, venue, or attraction. Using this data, organizers can also highlight busy periods, queue wait-times, and popular attractions to optimize the experience for their visitors.

Can RFID technology be used for tracking?

Most RFID wristbands use passive tags that only operate at high frequencies and are limited to very short distances, so it is impossible to track its wearers’ location. However, the last location of its wearer can be tracked. This can be used to understand traffic flow and security risks.

What are the benefits of RFID technology for events?

  • Streamlining entry to events by reducing queues
  • Attendees don’t have to carry their wallets, tickets or any other physical form of personal identification or information with them
  • Eliminating theft and fraud
  • Increasing on-site attendee engagement
  • Collecting real-time analytics
  • Simplifying the check-in process
  • One-tap payment for purchases
  • Increasing and opening new revenue streams

Why will RFID technology be the future of the live entertainment industry?

While earlier, the no-contact technology of RFID wristbands in live events was more for convenience, the recent coronavirus pandemic has propelled the world to exercise thorough caution. We are in a time where the live entertainment industry is on an indefinite hiatus and people are understandably cautious, now, more than ever. The future will continue with caution, carefully practicing social distancing. Here’s where RFID technology will come in. Going forward, attendees at crowded events will be able to avoid queues and will be able to make purchases, all without any physical contact. The implementation of RFID technology in the live events industry may breathe new, safer life into the coming events, possibilities of which attendees are yet to see.




Featured Image Via Canva

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