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RFID Delivers Gaming, Access to Comic Con Fans

ReedPOP is expanding services with its NFC RFID-enabled badges for more than 150,000 New York Comic Con fans at this year's event.
By Claire Swedberg

Visitors could also use their badge to participate in photo opportunities at booths. A guest can tap his or her badge against a reader at the booth, and the handheld or tablet reader will forward that individual's ID number to the software, which would then send the picture associated with that ID to his or her personal e-mail address. This year, the company is expanding its pre-show lotteries, as well as presale opportunities to purchase access to specific events and exclusive access to lotteries. Fans can tap their badge against readers at sites throughout the conference center to be included in lotteries or contests.

The system also helps individuals collect purchased items at the conclusion of the program. For instance, they can purchase memorabilia such as celebrity autographs, and their transaction will be linked to the unique ID number on their badge. As an individual leaves the site, he or she can redeem the autographs or other materials by presenting the badge to an employee equipped with a handheld reader. The reader will capture the ID number and link that information to the products purchased, and those items can then be retrieved for that individual.

The conference comes with XT Towers—games that users can interact with and receive prizes from when they tap their badge against the tower's reader. In addition, the system allows the top 10 fans to win exclusive items and merchandise. Software captures data indicating how much each badge holder has tapped around at the conference, then determines that individual's level of activity accordingly.

This year, NYCC will include an "intelligent matchmaking" option for use with the badges. A user can input his or her interests when making a ticket purchase, and that information, along with details regarding which events and booths that individual attended during the show (based on badge taps), enables the software to identify other programs that might be of interest to that user and forwards this data to him or her.

In 2020, the company intends to roll out a system for cashless payment via the badges. Visitors would simply provide account information with their other identifying details, after which they could tap their badge against point-of-sale readers to buy merchandise or food. The system, Rogers says, is designed "to put control back in the hands of the fans," so that they can use the bulk of their time as they want, rather than having to stand in line. That improved fan experience is the primary purpose of the system, she adds, though it also boosts sponsorship based on the improved experience for brands and vendors exhibiting at the event.

According to Rogers, exhibitors say they benefit from enabling visitors to simply tap their badge against a reader to redeem a prize or collect information rather than having to manually sign up for a newsletter, for instance. Last year, the event included approximately 35 RFID touchpoints at booths and entrances to panels, as well as at the XT Towers, while that number is anticipated to be even larger this year. Readers used at the entrance and exit for the event are in addition to those.

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