Why NFC for iPhone 6 and Apple Watch is great news for events

Apple Watch

The use of NFC and RFID is growing amongst event organisers, but the launch of the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch finally puts the entire mobile ecosystem in the hands of innovative event professionals.

An NFC and RFID event solution like the award-winning UpD8r has improved attendee experiences and organiser insights for dozens of events around the world.

apple watch NFC for eventsHowever there has always been a perception that NFC technology would never been ‘mainstream’, because Apple had so far ignored it.

Until now.

The iPhone 6 and Apple Watch will bring NFC functionality to the entire Apple ecosystem, and in one fell swoop provide the missing link in the NFC and RFID event landscape.

What is NFC?

Near Field Communication is a set of mobile standards built on existing Radio Frequency technologies (RFID) allowing devices to identify themselves, and read and write data.  If you’ve ever used a contactless payment card, you’ve already used NFC technology, probably without even realising.

The Android ecosystem has had NFC devices for a few years now, and phones and tablets from Samsung, Nokia, Sony, Blackberry, HTC and others all contain NFC functionality.

Most NFC devices have three modes:

  1. Card emulation – the device effectively broadcasts its identity to a compatible reader within range
  2. Peer-to-peer – the device shares data with another NFC device in range
  3. Read – the device can read a compatible NFC tag placed within range, and take action based on what it reads

You can effectively programme your NFC device to do any or all of the three things above, and all have value to an event organiser looking to engage an audience.


NFC is a type of RFID, and the two are often interchangeable in the world of events.

The main difference is the N of NFC – Near – in that NFC devices and tags can only be read from a close proximity, whereas many other RFID tags can be read from a greater distance.

If you want to track event attendees walking through a door, RFID might be for you, but if you want them to tap a badge to redeem vouchers, check-in on social media or request information, then NFC might be best.

How can NFC help event organisers?

RFID event solution UpD8r allows attendees with an NFC or RFID badge to interact with their event environment in any numbers of creative ways.  All by simply tapping their badge or wristband. These interactions can include:

  • Checking in on social media
  • Controlled access to selected areas and zones
  • Collecting information from the event such as slides, brochures and videos
  • Sharing event photos captured for you in booths and green-screen areas
  • Earning and redeeming vouchers for promotional items
  • Cashless payments

Everything users do at the event is tracked in the cloud, allowing detailed real-time reporting for the event organiser, and massive social amplification for brands and sponsors.

However, in order to enjoy the experience everyone needs to have an NFC or RFID tag – and normally this would require event organisers giving that tag to their attendees.

Until today, giving attendees the option to use their own NFC phone to do all of these things was only an option for a limited number of Android users – and therefore not a viable choice for event organisers looking to engage most, if not all of their attendees.

But now that has changed.  With the addition of NFC functionality to the Apple range of products, NFC event engagements will potentially be available to all attendees who own a smart phone, regardless of its flavour.

Imagine attendees tapping their Apple Watch to check into your event on Facebook or to give their details to an exhibitor, or them tapping their iPhone 6 to share the slides on LinkedIn from a presentation they’d just seen, or simply to gain access to a VIP area?

All of this will be possible in the next few years.

In the short-term, these event engagement features are available to any event organiser, large or small, wanting to benefit from award-winning event technology – simply by using UpD8r and NFC badges and wristbands, just like these events and brands.

So, if you’d like to know how NFC and RFID can improve your events – get in touch today!

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