Everyday people are finding new and innovative ways to simply life with RFID. In the attendee tracking industry, RFID enabled solutions are growing in popularity. To learn more about RFID in the event industry, we spoke with Dale Bookout and Tony Robinson of Global Registration Solutions. As the event tracking industry has grown, GRS has grown with it, so they have a great perspective on the increasing use of RFID at conventions.
RFID Event Tracking
Why would you need attendee tracking? When you attend industry conferences and big events, you are usually walking in and out of exhibit halls and seminars for several days. Show directors want to be able to track attendees to get analytics about which seminar was attended the most, or which exhibition booth saw the most traffic. This information proves valuable for show management in several ways such as planning the catering budget for the next event. Show directors usually hire an outside company to handle all their registration needs, but now attendee tracking companies give them the analytics they are looking for with RFID.
Before RFID became popular in the exhibition industry, barcodes were the means to track booth and show floor attendance numbers. As is the case with barcodes, line of sight is needed which skews results if people either left early or were not scanned. When you have thousands of attendees, scanning each individual’s badge is difficult. You have to hire people to stand at all entrances and exits. Typically, these people are not barcode experts, so that adds to the uncertainty of results. Now, the industry is seeing more accurate data thanks to RFID being incorporated into registration solutions.
Global Registration Solutions
Global Registration Solutions started in 2007 mainly focusing on registration services for mid-size events. They began working with RFID at the request of a client. They had looked into RFID once before, but they weren’t happy with the results and costs at the time. GRS began researching RFID technology again and found atlasRFIDstore.com. After speaking with their sales team, GRS was able to figure out the necessary components for an RFID attendee tracking solution. With Tony already having developed one application for the front end of registration, they went to work developing an application that would use RFID and post results in real time. They developed the software using the Impinj SDK. After rigorously testing their RFID system and new software, they were finally satisfied with the results.
The Process and the Equipment
After developing their initial solution, Global Registration Solutions has continued improving their systems by listening to their customers and understanding what people want from this technology. They use two types of RFID readers for two very different tasks.
GRS uses ThingMagic USB readers for all of their encoding purposes. When they first start preparing for a show, they place SMARTRAC DogBone RFID tags on each badge. They also print a 1D barcode on the front of each badge associated with a unique number. Their software reads the barcode’s unique number and encodes it on the RFID tag. With the RFID tag, they can track attendees patterns.
The Impinj Speedway Revolution RFID reader is used on the show floor and powers the many RFID antennas that track event attendees. In order to get accurate and consistent read rates, they use many different RFID antennas and mount them discreetly across the show floor and entrances.