Imagine being able to use biology to tell in real time if one of your speakers is truly engaging an audience or just putting them to sleep. Sounds futuristic, but that technology currently exists. Building on the idea of monitoring pulse, footsteps, and other life signs with health-related wearable devices like Fitbit, the Lightwave wristband can record the movement, sound, and excitement of a crowd.
People got a glimpse of the technology at a Pepsi-sponsored “bioreactive” concert at South by Southwest (SXSW) last year where audience members wore Lightwave wristbands that collected data on sound levels, temperature, and movement. The show didn’t start until attendees “unlocked” the performance by making a certain level of noise, recorded in real time by the wristbands, and a screen displayed the names of the top 10 most active users on a leaderboard. At one point, organizers held a dance-off between men and women, with Lightwave measuring everyone’s “dance energy.”
Developed by iPad DJ Rana June, Lightwave uses an algorithm to measure and interpret audience responses. In an interview with The Daily Dot last year, June described the wristband as more than a data platform. “It’s an artist’s tool as well,” she said. “We allow artists and creators to pull the data from the wristbands to drive interactive experiences, unlock key moments, and change the environment dynamically.”
At a meeting or other live event, data collected by Lightwave could help add more interactivity and dynamism to your program. For example, speakers could shift on the fly — from the lecture portion of their presentation to Q&A — if biometric data showed audience interest lagging. “There is the potential to use it to do some cool stuff [at meetings and conventions],” said Gabe Zichermann, CEO of Gamification Co. and chair of GSummit, an annual conference focused on gamification. “You could have everyone compete in a movement challenge or a group activity.” Likewise, Zichermann said, activities linked to the wristband could work as icebreakers.
However, unless the product has a low price point, this type of wearable tech is likely too expensive to be incorporated into large events in any significant way, Zichermann said. Lower-cost products and applications to promote interaction among attendees are already on the market, while GPS technology is being used to track the movements of attendees at large conferences and trade shows.
Still, at the Pepsi event at SXSW 2014, June told The Daily Dot that Lightwave altered the concert experience. Once the leaderboard screen began displaying top users and other data back to the crowd, people put away their phones and stopped their conversations to take a more active part in the experience. “We believe that live events should be engrossing, and if you’re looking at your phone, you’re taken out of the experience,” June said. “The simple element of competition and scoring points was really effective and, most importantly, fun.”