UPDATE: I changed some wording slightly – the term ‘tracking people’ was misleading – see comments for more details :-)
It’s going to be interesting to see the reactions of attendees to the RFID tag palava at this year’s TechEd in Sydney.
For those who missed it, the dudes at Breeze (Mick Badran and Scott Scovell amongst others) have been working hard for the last few months putting together a whole bunch of RFID infrastructure for TechEd (they even got some press).
RFID is a very convenient way of registering attendance of people (it sure beats having to wait for door staff to scan the bar code on your name tag) and it opens up a whole range of data mining options. Each delegate will have an RFID tag in their name badge which can be scanned at any of the 56 RFID readers around the event (and no, they aren’t putting scanners in the toilets!). The information is collected and can be linked to attributes (but nothing personally identifiable) about the delegate to allow some nice data patterns & trends.
Give privacy concerns the boot
But before we go any further, please note, this is not a big brother kind of thing. You can opt out. You can chuck away your RFID tag. In fact all you have to do is put your hand over the RFID tag and it won’t be picked up. So let’s give the boot to any silly privacy concerns that might rear their ignorant heads. You are in control folks! [UPDATE: Mick has an excellent update calming any concerns you may have]
I’m a fan… now
This might sound strange coming from someone who blogs about personal stuff from time to time, but I have to admit I was nervous when I first heard about the RFID tag plans. I’m actually pretty private and like to carefully control what is revealed about me (heh! and you thought I was totally open about everything on this blog – think again :-))
But now I’m a big fan. And here’s why… as a consumer your user experience is going to be better.
An improved Conference experience
The advantages of noting (in real time) the attributes of people who have turned up to a particular session are going to be immense. There’s plenty of benefits for organisers, but the main benefit I see is how presenters will be able to view stats on their audience and tailor the experience to suit.
I’m not sure what level of feedback will be provided at this year’s event, but you can see the potential. Imagine you are in a session and the presenter is able to know that most of you are experienced IT Pros. The coding might get reduced and the configuration increased (just an example).
Start thinking about all the possibilities…
(See also Shane’s post for details of the UX ideas)