NFC Gets in the Ring at UFC Fan Village

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Martial arts-based event Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), at its Fan Village in Ottawa, Canada, provided a Near Field Communication (NFC) radio frequency identification-based feature to enhance its fans' experience this summer: It increased game participation for those who wore NFC wristbands (versus those not doing so), and provided up to 5,000 social-media-linked activities. The NFC-enabled bracelets allowed participants at the Fan Village event to access games, take photographs and share the photos and game scores with friends via social media. The concept was provided by marketing company Bond Brand Loyalty, using technology from XOLUTION, a company that makes RFID technology for use at events.

Approximately 2000 individuals, representing 70 percent of those entering the village, registered for the RFID-enabled wristbands at the two-day event, held in June. They then used the bracelets about 5,000 times, equating to 2.5 taps per guest. Participants also shared 700 photos online through social media and e-mail.

The UFC offers Fan Village events around the world, aimed at bringing the sport and fighters to the fans. Such events typically include some celebrity fighters, as well as games and programs intended to help fans get closer to the fighting experience. According to the UFC, this was the first such event held in Ottawa.

For the Fan Villages in Ottawa, says a spokesperson for Bond Brand Loyalty, "We were looking for a smart, digital solution that would connect and enhance the fans' experience as they moved through each activation area. It needed to motivate both in-person and social engagement, while delivering extensive attendee and activation data for UFC and their sponsors."

XOLUTION (rebranded for BASH! Interactive) is a seven-year-old company that offers turnkey solutions for social-media-based marketing. The company provides a system that it likens to Legos, in that clients can build their own solutions based on their particular needs and the blocks of features XOLUTION offers, explains Conor Davies-Taylor, the firm's "Xperiential Eventor" and head of business development. "We offer a build-your-own digital experience," he says. The features include photos, gamification, social-media sharing and feedback, as well as contactless payments.

UFC opted for the registration, photos and gamification features only. The UFC Fan Village wanted an experience that would make fans feel as though they were part of the UFC experience, even though they were not fighters themselves.

The installation consisted of nine RFID-enabled tap stations, known as X-Stations. These were installed at registration; at a speed, power and endurance competition tent; and at a photo kiosk where guests could be pictured going head to head with their favorite fighter. XOLUTION's X-Engine cloud-based software managed the data related to each read event.

As each individual arrived at the event, he or she was offered the NFC 13.56 MHz wristband, employing an Semiconductors chip and compliant with the ISO 14443 standard, which was designed with the UFC brand printed on the front. Each wristband came with a unique ID number encoded on the NFC chip embedded within. Upon registering, users first approached an X-Station kiosk, where they tapped their wristband, causing the Xolution software to captures the ID number. They were then invited to input personal data, such as their social-media accounts, e-mail address, weight and height, as well as the name of their favorite UFC fighter. That data was then stored in the software, along with the unique ID....

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Tags: innovation, nfc
Last update: Dec 15, 2016

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