At the EIBTM show in Geneva in May, the Worldwide Watch presentation introduced the meeting community to a new name badge. For those following Worldwide Watch, a program that finds one innovative meeting technology product or service to highlight each year, a name badge might seem an unlikely selection, but this badge isn't like any that you've seen before.
The product, nTAG, can work as a networking tool, polling device, attendee tracker, and even a digital ticket for invitation-only events. The computerized, interactive badges, launched in late April by Boston- and New York-based nTAG Interactive (www.ntag.com), “talk” with other badges via infrared sensors and communicate over a wireless network with a central server. What does this mean for attendees and planners?
For the attendee, the badge is pre-loaded with information that he or she wants to share with others. (The data is provided by the attendee via a Web site, by answering questions established by the meeting organizer.) When attendees approach one another, their badges' sensors automatically exchange data and find areas of mutual interest, which are displayed on the badges' LCD screens — instant networking. After an event, attendees receive via e-mail a report on everyone they met.
For the event host, the system allows them to send messages to attendees, to poll the audience with multiple-choice questions, track attendance at sessions, identify high-traffic areas, and even see who's networking with whom.
The nTAG badges are for rent, not for sale. Minimum cost starts around $40 per badge, and can go up depending on the amount of data stored for each individual, the number of badges rented, and the number of applications used.