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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

IBM Uses RFID to Track Conference Attendees

At its "Information on Demand" conference, IBM is deploying RFID
technology on name tags worn by attendees that automatically tracks
their session and meal attendance. This is the first time that IBM
has used RFID technology at this conference, and the company is not
making a secret of it. There are signs at the registration desk offering
attendees the option of getting a name tag without the chip. Of the
6,500 people here, approximately 2% didn't want a name tag with an
RFID chip in it. From a simple unique identifier on the chip, begins
what could be a long tail of data analysis. The chip's 24-character
identifier includes the name, title and company of the person wearing
it. There is no other personal information on the chip. As a person
walks through the door leading into a conference session, an RFID
receiver logs the chip's data. The system, by AllianceTech in Austin
is networked and the data is received in real time by its on-site
systems at the conference. The data is organized in a DB2 database.
The RFID system, coupled with what the conference knows about the
person wearing the name badge, is providing lots of raw data. Mary
Ann Alberry, IBM's conference manager, said the data will be used
to help organizers with future conference planning, such as optimizing
sessions around interests and demands of conference attendees. It
will also let organizers know the number of people who have received
meals so they can plan meals in such a way that food is available
at the right time. Because RFID keeps count of people getting meals
at the conference, it creates a means to audit and help control
conference costs. The real-time aspects of the system help with
day-to-day conference management. If a room gets filled to capacity,
a decision can be made to repeat the session. If a person needs to
be reached in an emergency, he can also be tracked down. Many
conferences already track who enters sessions by scanning bar codes
on name badges, but Art Borrego, CEO of AllianceTech, said RFID
allows people to enter a room without delay. He said conference goers
have accepted it in much the same way many use RFID to avoid having
to stop on a highway to pay a toll. More Information

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