Duncan Abdelnour- BizBash Connect 2020 Visit #002
In tonight’s episode of ILET, Joel chat’s with tech expert and entrepreneur Duncan Abdelnour, from CrowdSync Technology. CrowdSync is an Event Experience and Brand Activation Company specializing in LED Wristbands and RFID Event Technology. Learn about how their new “safe bands” are revolutionizing COVID-friendly events by using infrared technology to alert people if they’re too close at an event.
Also, make sure to stay until the end when Joel visits Duncan at a Tradeshow IN-PERSON at BizBash 2020.
For more information on Duncan and his products, check out the below links:
The Role of RFID Technology in a Post-COVID World
Duncan Abdelnour has been interested in private events in one form or another for a long time. Throughout high school, he was a standard private event DJ. For Abdelour, this was eye-opening to the world of private events, and a different kind of entertainment. He was able to experience everything from weddings to corporate events from that perspective. His first job in the music industry was at Sony, where he got to meet and work with incredible artists and musicians as well. With this background, he was perfectly poised to enter the world of digital technology in the event space.
Today, he is the CEO of CrowdSync Technology, one of the leaders in experiential RFID and LED innovations. The company’s main goal is to “connect audiences to artists, brands, and events”. It primarily achieves this through its hardware LED and RFID products that create a fun atmosphere and help track attendees at events. But with the pandemic having a profound effect on live events, Abdelnour has innovated to make his technology useful even in a post-COVID world.
What is RFID?
RFID stands for radio frequency identification. It is a wireless system that allows different tags to communicate with each other and store information. In the world of private events, RFID tags usually come in the form of wristbands that attendees can wear throughout the night. The wristbands allow them access to the venue, keep track of where they are, as well as other functions. It’s a great tool for crowd control and creating a sense of unity and community at an event.
Before the Pandemic
The largest event that CrowdSync has participated in was in 2019. The Patriots held a celebration to kick off the beginning of the football season. They brought in CrowdSync to electrify the audience with 70,000 LED wristbands that worked together to create a large on-field map projection.
CrowdSync was doing all kinds of events, from live sports to corporate events. There were large live events happening every day, and the market for live event technology was growing. But then the pandemic hit, and it fundamentally transformed our view of what live events can and should look like.
A New Normal
Live events have adapted to social distancing regulations by lowering capacity and changing the layout of events. For example, many concerts converted to drive-in events. Audience members are spaced out, in their own car or seat with plenty of space around them. The CrowdSync LED wristbands add a nice layer on top of that, because despite the physical space, audience members get to feel very connected to each other and the show because they’re lighting up as part of the effects. But even then, the event world was quickly shrinking. The demand for wristbands just wasn’t there in the same way. So Abdelnour went in a different direction.
A New Product
Abdelnour and his team responded quickly to the pandemic by pivoting the entire company to focus on importing personal protective equipment, or PPE, into the United States during March and April of 2020 when there was a severe shortage. They worked with their partners in China and Asia to make that happen. This effort became known as Crowd Health, and evolved to fill supply chain gaps in medical equipment and testing.
They then developed a new product: controllable LED face masks. Abdelnour and the CrowdSync team believe these will create an entirely new way to experience an event, outside of the health and safety benefits. These masks have fiber optic LEDs woven throughout, which can then light up in sync with other mask-wearers and create incredible effects in a crowd. The best part is, because of the LED features, event goers are almost guaranteed to keep them on because of how cool they look. Even after gatherings are allowed at full capacity, Abdelnour can see these products being a hit at indoor events.
They have also created a wristband offering designed to promote social distancing. These wristbands have infrared sensors that can sense when people are standing within six feet of each other. If that happens, the wristband starts flashing to notify the wearer that he or she is too close to others. Additionally, if people come together as a group, the wristbands can be programmed to work as a group, so they only flash if someone outside the group gets too close.
The Future of Events
Abdelnour is currently working on a new company that will focus on direct-to-consumer products. He imagines smaller informal events being transformed with RFID and LED technology. For example, a casual dorm party can turn into a concert with some LED wristbands and good music. He wants to make the technology as accessible as possible so anyone and everyone can create their own impactful event regardless of size. Smaller events will be the first to bounce back in full capacity with the rollout of the vaccine, so these products have real potential in the market.
His team is also working on transforming the event experience by making it cashless. They want to link digital wallets, physical credentials, and payment methods in one place with a single piece of RFID hardware. This linking will mean people can come to a festival without needing a wallet, and can ensure important items don’t get stolen.
Abdelnour has other ideas too. What if he could create a product that could track someone’s temperature at an event? Or build something that prevents people from engaging in activities like hugging or kissing at large indoor events where disease spread is more likely?
And people today can spend half an hour waiting in line at a food truck at a music festival. He could eliminate the need for lines by having wristbands tracking people’s positions and notifying them when it is their turn. There is a lot on the horizon for CrowdSync, and plenty of opportunities for innovation as we rethink what events look like.
Tune in to EventSpeak for more insightful conversations with professionals in the event tech industry.