Onsite Chronicles: How a Hot Dog Wrapper optimized an RFID deployment

Events are never perfect. There are always last-minute hurdles or unknowns that find their way into your event at the worst time. This is why event professionals require a special determination to make the best of every scenario. In the Onsite Chronicles series, we’ll share some light-hearted stories from our experiences onsite that offer a look at some of the complexities of deploying onsite technology, while also highlighting some of the characteristics necessary to thrive in the event industry.

The Famous Foil

June 2015 – Setting up for a large RFID collaboration with an experiential marketing firm, Capture was providing Scanning Kiosks that offered an integrated entrance into the ‘Social Circle’; an AI-driven experience that illuminated a bubble surrounding your feet, showcasing similarities you share with other attendees when you connect your bubble to theirs (Hometown, industry, pets, etc.)

The main focus of this deployment was on the integration with the marketing firm, making sure our scan of the attendee was sent to them for identification within a couple seconds of a badge scan, kickstarting the process. All was well in the pre-show testing as we travelled to Mandalay Bay, excited to deploy this solution. After setting up, the integration is working great, but the RFID is working “too good;” reading our badges in testing from 5 feet away. While this would normally be a convenient feature in front of a session room offering a “wave and go” experience, the Social Circle needed the attendee to physically tap the badge to the reader so the circle could detect their feet and position their bubble.

Minutes of testing turned to hours of collaborating on how to limit the read-rate of the RFID hardware to perform in this environment. As we tinkered with different placements within the scanning kiosks, calibrations of the reader, and other previously used adjustments. Admittedly, we were surprised when a senior leader of our team came back from lunch with a box of Nathan’s foil hot dog wrappers. Were we moving on to tin foil hat theories? No, Neal was bringing forth an unconventional, but strategic element that would limit the read range of our RFID readers. What blocks RFID from reading? Metal and water. With the expertly crafted foil covering over the reader, exposing just one inch of the RFID antenna, the badges read perfectly when tapped to the scanning kiosk.

Crisis averted, thanks to a hard-working, comically creative onsite team deploying an RFID and AI driven social circle; unofficially sponsored by Nathan’s Hot Dogs.