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Demystifying QR Codes, RFID, Beacon, and NFC


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How to Use QR, RFID, Beacons, and  NFC to Capture Data and Improve Your Events

Capture data at your eventToday’s event tech enables you to capture data and use it a number of awesome new ways. You can make networking easier, provide useful event info for attendees, create more value for your sponsors and gain more insight into what’s working at your event.

Useful attendee data can take a few different shapes: first party data (obtained through event registration) is one example, as well as traffic or event location patterns. When it comes to collecting and utilizing this information to your advantage, there are a few options, each with their own benefits.

Here, we’ll break down the options — and show you how to make the most of each one.

QR codes

Quick Response or QR codes can be used for networking, gamification and tracking. To create one, a barcode is printed on an attendees badge or used at a sponsor booth. This is the tech replacement of a business card exchange — you simply use your event app to scan the code and you’re connected to that person. From there, you can see their profile, make notes on that contact, set up a meeting and communicate through messaging. Once scanned, a connection is filed into a “my connections” list for future access. QR codes are a simple, cost effective entry into networking.

NFC vs QR code

This option makes it easy to establish attendee-to-attendee as well as attendee-to-sponsor connections. Connecting to a sponsor is especially helpful when it comes to gathering or sharing a company’s info, profile, assets, quizzes and polls. Furthermore, making connections and participating in quizzes can be included in gamification: points can be awarded for each connection or response made through the code.

Because QR codes can be scanned anywhere, they can also be used for registration and tracking. For example: when someone checks into a session, they can be sent a quick welcome push notification. You can also request that attendees scan out when exiting a session to track time spent. Capturing this data and then generating an exit survey can be useful in measuring the success of your sessions.


RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology is used for tracking, information gathering, accessing sessions at large events and cashless payments.

RFID Badge SystemRFID technology uses small computer chips and antennas to store data, creating a unique identifier. The technology is contained in “tags” which are small enough to fit on event badges and bracelets, creating an RFID badge system. Tags are assigned to each attendee prior to the meeting, and then fixed to attendee badges. During the event, RFID scanners (which are about the size of a thumb drive) pair with a tablet or phone to collect data.

RFID AppRFID is most commonly used to check attendees into sessions. It’s especially beneficial when it comes to groups — to control access to events, log continuing education or mandatory training credits and speed up merchandise exchanges.

For large scale events and festivals, RFID technology can be useful in making security lines run more smoothly. At a scanning station, attendees can simply swipe their bracelet or badge for admission. Or, for example, beverage tickets can be provided to guests and stored in their tags. Attendees can also link their credit cards with their RFID tag to allow for cashless payments.

Similar to QR Codes, an RFID app makes registration and welcome messages (via push notifications) easy, and can also track an attendee’s time spent at any particular session. After a guest has registered and/or scanned out of a session, you can generate surveys and analyze traffic patterns. This level of detail can help you gather valuable insight on popular features, bottlenecks, security issues and venue layouts. Learn more about RFID technology and its benefits here.


A beacon is a piece of hardware that uses BLE technology to transmit a signal. It is most used Beacon Technologyfor networking and tracking. Stationary beacons are small enough to attach to a wall or a countertop; they transmit messages or prompts directly to bluetooth-enabled devices. Mobile beacons are even smaller, and they can be easily attached to lanyards.

Beacons allow you to alert attendees when connections are nearby. From there, you can see information about your connection — including their photo — to better facilitate easy conversations. Like QR and RFID technology, beacons allow push notifications with welcome messages and session surveys. Additionally, with the ability to access reliable data in real time, you can spotlight areas that need attention.

How Beacon Technology Works

Beacons are also quite useful for sponsors. Dwell time reporting (the time spent at a sponsor booth) can be captured even if a direct connection isn’t made. This makes it easy for sponsors to follow up with potential leads. Check out additional information on beacon technology here.


For a glimpse of the future of event tech, check out NFC technologies and systems. NFC (Near Field Communication) allows peer-to-peer communication between devices. When two devices are close to one another (or when touched together), data can be exchanged — no internet connection needed.

NFC Technologies and SystemsNFC is derived from RFID technology; it’s essentially two chips that talk to one another. Have you ever used Apple Pay where you hold your phone up to a card reader to make a purchase? That’s it in a nutshell.

Until now, Apple Pay has been the only application granted access to the iPhone NFC chips and Apple hasn’t yet permitted app developers the same unlimited access. However, there is buzz that with iOS12, that will change. While this access has always been available in Android phones, it is not utilized as it would disclude those attendees with alternative devices.

The use of NFC could change the networking process. Using NFC vs. QR codes, RFID technology and beacons, simply tapping or bumping a phone can exchange information, with no internet, badges or bands required.

To learn more about maximizing data at your next event and how to best leverage an event communication app, contact a MeetingPlay expert for a demo!

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