Microchipped ID wristbands heading for UK festivals

  • 16 January 2012
  • From the section Music
Wristband

Festival-goers have seen new microchipped wristbands in action at a major event in Europe ahead of the summer festival season.

Designers say the wristbands wipe out ticket fraud and touting, and can be loaded with cash to pay for goods on site.

But critics say they are an invasion of privacy and make festivals feel "too commercial".

Glastonbury organiser Michael Eavis has confirmed he may adopt the technology.

UK festivals

The company behind the wristbands, Intellitix, confirmed the technology will be used for general admission at "a couple" of UK festivals in 2012.

They expect to announce the details before the end of January.

The wristbands look like standard material festival bands except they're fitted with a microchip, a similar technology to London's Oyster card public transport swipe cards.

Wristband scanner
Wristbands are scanned as music fans enter and leave venues or areas

Festival-goers are registered in and out of venues with either turnstiles or hand-held devices scanning their wristbands, with organisers able to track the data.

Glastonbury's Michael Eavis was one of the promoters taking a look at the technology in action at Eurosonic Noorderslag festival in Groningen, The Netherlands.

He confirmed his event, the UK's largest festival, are considering using the technology and that it "seems like an incredible system."

Speaking to Newsbeat, 76-year-old Eavis admitted that "it does look as though it's something better than what we're doing at the moment" and that he "might be tempted" to use it.

Glastonbury currently uses a registration system where ticketholders' photos appear on the printed tickets.

'Commercial concerns'

However, Eavis did have concerns about whether introducing the wristbands would result in his, and other festivals, becoming "too commercial".

"All the commercial implications of the chip are slightly worrying aren't they?" he said.

"I don't want to take people into a land they don't want to go into.

"And using information about people, I wouldn't be happy about that."

Greg Parmley, chief information officer for Intellitix, denies the tracking technology is invasive saying festival-goers can choose to be anonymous.

He also denies those festivals which adopt the new wristbands will have to increase ticket prices to pay for it, adding: "The last thing this will do is raise general ticket prices."

He said the microchips are "really cheap", costing "pennies" to produce.

Crowd at Eurosonic
Eurosonic was the first major European festival to use the new technology

Fans' view

More than 3,000 music fans and industry representatives had a chance to use the technology for the first time as more than 200 bands took to stages at 27 different venues at Eurosonic.

Ramon Von Geytenbeek, from Amsterdam, said: "The chip itself is quite annoying. You feel it brushing up against your wrist.

"I do understand that they do want to know where people are going, what they're doing but I don't really want them tracking me. I want to go where I want without people checking."

Gasper Smidt from The Hague said: "I think it's really innovative. Everything is going really smoothly. It's a safe way to check if everyone is in or out."

So far more than a million customers have used the wristbands after they were introduced at a number of major festivals across north America in 2011.

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