Technology is getting smarter. We now have everything from smart phones and smart wearables, to smart medicine, houses and cars. And since a big part of the “smart” in smart technology is about creating a more personalized experience, it makes sense that as technology develops beyond what we can imagine today, we should take advantage of that ability to respond in more personal ways with attendees and become more savvy about how we integrate smart technology into events and trade shows.

People often attend events to discover the latest and greatest things within their industry. But it’s always important that they are able to find information and products that are relevant to them personally, or else they will consider that event or trade show not worth their time. Smart technologies open up the opportunity to personalize an attendee’s experience with targeted information.

Below you will find some of the ways that smart technology is being used at events to help fuel your creativity for your next event.

Progressive Ideas for Near Field Communication (N.F.C.) at Events

N.F.C. is a short range wireless link that transfers bits of data from one device to another. Here are some of the ways N.F.C. has been recently used, or is soon to be used, at various events around the world:

  • At the Dell Solutions Tour, Dell is utilizing plastic N.F.C. badges. Once attendees visit a product display, they tap their badge on a kiosk, which launches a survey. The system is linked to a prize drawing to encourage participation.


  • Dell is also using an N.F.C. reader app. The app device is tapped on an attendee’s N.F.C.-enabled badge, and the app retrieves that person’s contact information.


  • At Mobile World Congress attendees used N.F.C.-enabled devices to access information, get materials, redeem coupons, and participate in a treasure hunt.  Users could also create an N.F.C. photo badge (via a mobile app) which facilitated entry.


  • At the International Broadcasting Convention attendees could tap their N.F.C. badge to a Btag (a self-contained hot spot) to get digital copies of magazines.


  • At the International C.E.S., N.F.C.-enabled badges were used to check into sessions.


  • Event attendees can have their N.F.C.-enabled device linked to an online account with payment information to make purchases.


  • At the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival, N.F.C.-enabled wristbands could be tapped on tablets (such as iPads) displayed by each chef.  This allowed users to have information about the food and recipes saved into their online account.


  • An N.F.C.-enabled device can be utilized for social media check-ins and sharing photos.

Radio-frequency Identification (R.F.I.D.) Uses at Events

R.F.I.D. is the use of electromagnetic fields to transfer data to automatically identify and track tags which have been attached to objects, people, or animals. (Familiar examples would be pet microchips or a toll road that uses an RFID payment system).

  • R.F.I.D. wristbands can replace admission tickets. At the Tomorrowland Music Festival, attendees registered their R.F.I.D. wristbands online and linked them to Facebook. The system allowed them to receive a daily email of people they met each day at the event.


  • U.H.F. (ultra-high frequency) tags can be read from much farther away. So U.H.F. readers embedded in event entry gates can read badges instantly.


  • At EMC World, N.F.C. (near field communication) badges were used to manage distribution of conference bags.


  • At the Ryder Cup, wristbands will be used to support physical activity for guests – the R.F.I.D. wristbands will track distances the guests cover as they walk the course and check in for prizes at different stations.

Using Beacon Technology at Events

Beacons are low-powered, low-cost transmitters that are able to notify nearby iOS devices of their presence. Beacons can be used to detect an event attendee’s mobile device, and information relevant to that attendee can be pushed to their screen.

  • At the International CES, participants were sent on a scavenger hunt in search of hidden Beacons as a form of gamification.


  • When an attendee with a Bluetooth-enabled device goes near a hotspot, beacon technology can trigger a video or other message – anything from a welcome message to a special sale.


  • As an attendee moves through the venue, beacons can sync where she is physically with her itinerary, and then trigger the app to pull up the relevant map so she can take the quickest route to the seminar she’s headed to.


  • With Beacons, an app can automatically check people into sessions and even follow attendance to give continuing education credits.


  • Beacons can trigger apps to give attendees points in an event’s mobile game.


  • Perhaps attendees could be notified if someone they’d like to meet is nearby, or if an impromptu session on a topic they are interested in is starting.


Smart technology opens up a vast range of uses for a much more personalized and highly relevant event experience for the attendee, as well as a mode for exhibitors and event managers to efficiently gather real-time data and information.