RFID Talk Blog

RFID measures fan engagement at NBA All-Star Game

The NFL turned to RFID technology during the Super Bowl for fan access control and social media engagement during special events occurring on Super Bowl Boulevard in Times Square.

Now the NBA is relying on RFID to enhance the fan experience during this weekend’s NBA All-Star festivities, primarily the NBA All-Star Jam Session. It is the first time that the NBA has utilized RFID technology.

NBA All Star game

The NBA will use RFID to measure fan engagement during this weekend's all-star festivities.

The NBA expects to distribute about 40,000 HF RFID-enabled Jam Bands over the course of Jam Session, which began on Thursday and runs through Sunday. The events are being held at the New Orleans Convention Center.

“Fans are engaging with us in record numbers across social media platforms and introducing radio frequency ID technology with our Jam Bands makes it easier than ever for fans to share photos, videos, and more while at NBA All-Star Jam Session,” Emilio Collins, Senior Vice President of Global Marketing Partnerships at the NBA, told Forbes.

The NBA’s Jam Session features numerous interactive basketball events where fans can compete against their friends in a variety of activities including skills challenges and interactive basketball experiences. They can also meet and have photos taken with NBA players.

Unlike the NFL, which distributed hundreds of thousands of bracelets powered by UHF RFID technology, the NBA is using HF tags in its bracelets so it can write more information to the tags.

“The NBA is looking to create a really cool experience for their fans and to track engagements at the different activations, and understand what activations are selectively attracting and engaging which demographics,” says Michael Gilvar, the CEO at Fish Technologies, which installed the solution for the NBA.

The NBA's RFID-enabled Jam Band.

Among other things, the Jam Bands will measure and analyze fan’s basketball skills in real-time. The NBA is also using technology from Samsung to provide fans with the opportunity to utilize Galaxy Note 3 phones at each sponsor’s activity space to allow them to “check-in” via their Jam Bands. The Jam Bands will also allow fans to post photos to their social media accounts instantaneously.

Taco Bell, as part of its Buzzer Beater program, will give fans the chance to re-enact famous buzzer beaters in NBA history, with a video of their version of each shot posted to their social media sites. In addition, Sprint will give fans the chance to capture a photo of themselves dunking, with the help of a green screen, alongside the Clippers Dunk Squad, who will be at Sprint’s space all weekend.

While UHF technology offers the ability to passively tracks assets and humans as they move past portals, the NBA’s use of HF RFID bracelets expanded its options for using the technology.

By using HF RFID bracelets, the NBA can write more information to tags and qualify which fans win prizes at certain events. While everyone can win a prize at some event venues by simply tapping their wristband within the kiosk, other events are programmed to only award fans of a certain age group, or those that have already visited the required amount of kiosks.

The NBA says it plans embrace RFID and other leading technologies in the future to enhance fan interaction.

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