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RFID Plays Matchmaker at Conferences

Badge2Match's RFID-enabled badges light up whenever two people with complementary interests get close to each other.
By Claire Swedberg
Mar 29, 2011Most conferences require attendees to "work the room," introducing themselves to others in order to meet those with specific interests, such as people with whom they could conduct business. Now an events company in the United States, Wizard Studios Global Events, is marketing a solution from the Netherlands that employs radio frequency identification technology to bring the right people together in a crowd. The solution, which has been booked for several U.S. conferences in May 2011, consists of interactive RFID SmartBadge tags provided by Badge2Match that store data about an individual, transmit that information and capture data from other badges within 15 feet.

"When I found this product, I got very excited about it," says Russell Brumfield, Wizard Studios' CEO. "It's a great way to meet people, to network, and it's about meeting those you want to meet."

When one person's RFID-enabled SmartBadge detects another badge worn by a person with complementary interests, the two begin flashing the same color.
First, Wizard Studios offers an online questionnaire tailored to each specific conference, which an attendee can fill out ahead of time. Attendees are asked about their profession, whether they are interested in specific products and whether they are attending to buy or sell products and services, or for some other reason. Upon arriving at an event, a visitor can go to a registration kiosk or desk, where he or she will then be issued a SmartBadge—an active ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) transponder (powered by two AAA batteries) that, according to Onno Bos, Badge2Match's founder and CEO, was custom-made for this application by Vitelec. A staff member working at the registration desk can use a device known as a Transferbox (also manufactured by Vitelec specifically for this application) to encode the badge's RFID tag with that individual's likes and interests, based on his or her responses to the online questionnaire.

The badge, worn around the neck on a lanyard, continually transmits that data as the individual proceeds into an exhibit hall or meeting room. If the attendee comes within about 5 meters (16.4 feet) of someone with complementary interests, the badges of both visitors begin blinking. To help users identify their match in a crowded location, both badges flash a light of the same color (there are eight color options). The badges inform other nearby tags of their color choice, so that if those other tags detect their own matches, they would then select a different hue. As a result, if a conference-goer notices her badge flashing blue, she can look around the crowd until seeing another blinking blue light, and then simply introduce herself to that individual.

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