How Wearable Technology is Changing Events

Imagine an amusement park with no lines. That’s precisely the experience that visitors to Universal’s water park, Volcano Bay, receive due to wearable tech.

Upon entering the park, every guest is given a TapuTapu (which they return when leaving the park). The device is analogous to an Apple Watch, except it only works in Volcano Bay. While at the park, visitors will use the TapuTapu to rent a locker, open the locker, activate selfie areas, pay for all in-park purchases, activate interactive features (such as setting off water jets and activating light effects), and – perhaps best of all – hold their spot in line.

The way that works is guests walk up to a ride and place their TapuTapu against a totem (these are located in front of every slide). This action places them in a virtual line. Then the TapuTapu notifies riders when they are nearing the “front.” Upon arriving back at the slide, there is actually a small line, but the actual time standing around is five minutes or less, according to Universal. The only catch is that a TapuTapu will only manage one virtual line at a time, which is fair since that’s all someone could physically do.

In addition to providing an unprecedented level of convenience to park visitors, Universal gains valuable data about every visitor to Volcano Bay by being able to track their movements every second they are at the park. Wearable tech has the potential to overhaul the amusement park industry completely. The less time spent in line is more time snacking and browsing gift shops.

Wearable technology is poised to make an equally big impact on the events industry. This tech will provide event planners with a wealth of reliable data, while dramatically improving the attendee experience.

About Wearable Technology

Wearable technology is any device that passively collects data at all times. This passive data collection means that an attendee’s experience is uninterrupted. Examples of wearable tech include:

  • Watches

  • Wristbands

  • ID bands

  • Eyewear (e.g., Google Glass, Snapchat Spectacles)

  • Earwear (e.g., AirPods, Pixel Buds)

  • Clothing

According to the International Data Corporation’s (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker report, the worldwide market for wearable devices reached a new high of 59.3 million units for the fourth quarter of 2018. That’s a growth of 31.4 percent. In total, 172.2 million wearables shipped throughout 2018, a growth of 27.5 percent from 2017.

“The market for ear-worn wearables has grown substantially this past year and we expect this to continue in the years to come,” Jitesh Ubrani, Senior Research Analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers, said in the report.

“Smartwatches, meanwhile, grew 54.3 percent and accounted for 29.8 percent of all wearable device shipments in 2018,” said Ramon T. Llamas, Research Director for IDC’s Wearables. “Apple accounted for nearly half the market, followed by a long list of companies that posted double- and triple-digit growth. What resulted from this was a growing list of devices available at multiple price-points to meet the needs of a diverse market.”

Photo Credit: Snapchat Spectacles

Photo Credit: Snapchat Spectacles

Benefits for Event Planners

Wearable tech immediately gives event planners a significant advantage when it comes to data collection. Not only are attendance numbers immediate and accurate, but they also reveal how many people attend each session, speaker engagement, and event and the specific demographics of those attendees.

Additionally, specific attendees can be monitored to ensure they receive appropriate treatment. In the past, it was nearly impossible to ensure that VIPs received a VIP treatment at all times unless they had a dedicated staffer assigned to them. A solution that is costly and, frequently, impractical. With wearable tech, a single staffer can monitor all VIPs to ensure their needs are met and that any glitches are corrected immediately.

Event planners will also be able to monitor show traffic in real-time with more accuracy than ever before. Information, such as where attendees congregate, specific dwell time, and areas of congestion, is immediately available and actionable. Traffic jams can be cleared and rerouted, staffing concerns can be fixed, and resource allocation can be amended promptly and as needed.

Additionally, for event planners, the benefits of wearable tech extend beyond attendees. By outfitting staff with wearable tech, management and floor personnel can inconspicuously communicate in real-time. This way, planners can monitor staff movement similar to monitoring attendees and can quickly reallocate resources and address issues without alerting any guests.

Once the event is over, determining ROI becomes significantly easier and accurate due to wearable tech. Event planners can quickly determine which aspects of the event were a success and which need to be reworked or discarded. Plus, this information can be shared with exhibitors and sponsors to highlight the effectiveness of their participation and encourage repeat business.

Benefits for Exhibitors and Sponsors

Both sponsors and exhibitors want to know that their investment in time and money was a success. Wearable tech can provide these insights. Details include specific dwell times at booths and sponsored areas and the exact demographic data of these visitors. For large exhibits, it is possible to compare the dwell time of one specific area of a display to others. This tech can even illuminate who passed and did not stop, providing insight into potential missed opportunities.

Wearables can also target specific attendees with messages encouraging them to visit a booth or sponsored section when they near it.

These insights provided by wearable tech can help sponsors and exhibitors adjust their strategies and learn what works to attract their specific target audience. 

Sponsors can also gain essential data about traffic flow and high congestion areas. This will help them make better decisions when it comes to branding locations. Also, the wearable tech itself can be branded, which helps offset the costs for event planners and delivers a prime opportunity for sponsors.


Benefits for Attendees

Wearable tech allows attendees to breeze through registration, avoiding the lines that have long plagued the start of an event. The same is true for educational sessions and special events. Loitering at a check-in table is no longer an issue, giving presenters more time to deliver content and attendees more time to network.

It can also assist in planning an attendee’s day and keep them on schedule as they navigate the event. Then, once the day is done, attendees can review their activities through the data collected by the device about specific booths visited, sessions attended, and contacts made.  

Speaking of navigation, when paired with beacons, wearables can help attendees smoothly traverse the show floor, easily moving from point A to point B without missing the highlights in between.

Plus, wearables are secure, which can be utilized in several ways. For example, wearable tech can replace a room key – no more fumbling around looking for a keycard. Now, attendees can simply wave a wristband in front of a sensor to unlock the door. Credit card information can also be stored inside a wearable device. This way, attendees can leave all of their valuables and personal information locked in a room safe and rely entirely on their wearable tech for all event-related purchases.

Wearable technology is the golden goose of live events. It delivers a streamlined, personalized experience to attendees, provides sponsors and exhibitors with a higher ROI, and supplies valuable data to event planners. When used creatively and sensibly, wearable tech could revolutionize your next event.