Event Says

Stepping into the world of wristband technology

The humble wristband has come a long way in the last decade. Now no longer simply the souvenir 17 year-old festival-goers refuse to remove, technology has meant it is making the lives of events producers and planners easier. Katie Deighton takes a look at three tech companies who are thinking creatively with wristwear from around the globe.

Xylobands

What’s the product?

Xylobands creates stunning visual shows by using the crowd as a lightsource – audience members are given branded wristbands to wear and a spectacular lightshow is formed via LED flash patterns. The company can produce this effect at events large and small, and radio frequency identification (RFID) technology is built in to harness data and produce social media content.

What’s the story?

You’re more likely to find the team from Xylobands in a pub in Wiltshire than you are in Silicon Valley. The idea for these light-up bands came about when inventor Jason Regler was captivated by the euphoria of the crowd at a Coldplay show.

“He was intrigued as to whether this experience could be heightened to unite the fans one step further and make them part of the show,” explains Xyloband’s Lucy Main. “It was at that point Jason had his ‘eureka’ moment and went about creating the first Xyloband prototype. What followed was a certain twist of fate and some chance encounters that finally resulted in a partnership between himself and Coldplay.”

Xylobands supply its product to a range of events, from small weddings to huge arena gigs. Alongside Coldplay, the Rolling Stones, Jay-Z and Rihanna have used the technology, while Coca-Cola, L’Oreal and Facebook have partnered with the company at corporate events.

What’s the plan?

This year will see Xylobands develop its product further. New bands will contain LEDs that produce a full spectrum of colour, and a hand-held control system will let more intimate events make use the bands at a smaller cost. RFID technology will also be on offer to connect the bands to social media and collect data. Xylobands will be expanding outside of wristbands too, with a products such as inflatable balls and lanyards, installed with the same Xylo technology, on the cards.

Intellitix Access Control

What’s the product?

Intellitix provides access control through contactless technology at events. Wristbands, cards or devices are tapped to secure entry into events through Intellitix ‘entrance portals’, reducing queuing times and staffing costs and providing organisers with real-time entry and exit statistics.

The devices work through a system of RFID. Eric Janssen, chief revenue officer at Intellitix, explains: “RFID is a generic term used to describe a system which transmits the identity (in the form of a unique serial number) of an object or person wirelessly, using radio waves.

“RFID is designed to enable readers to capture data on tags and transmit it to a computer system, without the need for physical contact. The RFID tag includes a small RF transmitter and receiver. An RFID reader transmits an encoded radio signal to identify the tag. The tag receives the message and responds with its identification information.”

What’s the story?

Intellitix’s CEO Serge Grimaux thought up the idea for contactless technology in 2008 after a career in the live events industry. Three years later the technology was developed in Canada, before the business expanded into the US, Europe and the rest of the world. The company has since provided its services at Coachella festival, the UEFA Champions League and the Irish open.

The technology developed by Intellitix has since been used to help out event organisers in other ways. In 2013, cashless pay platform Intellipay was developed, a system which lets users purchase items at an event with a tap of the wristband that gained them entry. The wristbands now have the potential to connect to social media too – event organisers can erect ‘check-in points’ that users can tap to update their Facebook status or send a tweet instantly.

What’s the plan?

Intellitix is keeping its cards close to its chest in terms of product development plans, but Janssen says it is focusing on making sure the Intellipay is the safest RFID system on the market, as well as expanding its clientele.

“Our main focus is on educating the events and festival market on the true benefits of RFID as well as the best practices for implementing for their events,” he says. “RFID for access control, cashless payment, and brand activation is a proven technology, and we’re already seeing a huge upturn with regards to new interest and new applications of it.”

IPourIt

What’s the product?

IPourIt lets guests at events purchase and pour their own beer. When a person enters an IPourIt station, their credit card is swiped at a central station and they are given an encoded RFID wristband which contains details of their card. The wristband is then touched onto a tap handle, which opens the valve. The truly unique part of the system is that the customer decides how much beer they want, and are charged accordingly. This not only saves businesses money on lost beer, but creates an online community for IPourIt users to track which beers they have drank and where.

What’s the story?

Joseph McCarthy, the president of IPourIt, explains: “The company was a labour of love for our founder, who got tired of waiting interminably at bars for beer and couldn’t sample many types at will.

“Brett Jones, our CTO, was the CTO of a publicly-listed company and I was the VP of mergers and acquisitions as well as general counsel at the time the system was cooked up.  Two years later, the summer of 2011, we had a working prototype and did our first commercial install in summer 2012 and raised money in October.  We now have 24 clients in 17 US states and two Canadian provinces.”

What’s next?

On top of constantly improving the systems software and hardware – both of which are developed in-house – the company are looking at more movable versions of IPourIt. “We are working with a few clients who are building mobile beer trailers with anywhere from 12 to 40-tap capacity and we hope to be able to use those at events such as music festivals,” says McCarthy.