ELECTRONIC radio tagging of spectators is set to make next month’s Ryder Cup tournament in Scotland one of the most technologically advanced golfing events of all time.
Wristbands fitted with a tiny chip will allow fans to instantly share their experiences of the biennial clash between Europe and the US with friends and family across the globe.
Spectators at Gleneagles will receive a special radio frequency identification (RFID) wristband along with their tickets.
This not only gives entry to the site, it will let wearers to take part in interactive activities around the course and share their movements instantly via social media.
Once the wristband is activated, the wearer can demonstrate support for their team with a virtual ‘High Five’ on arrival.
By touching the tag to points around the golf course, spectators can also have their support registered on a leaderboard.
They will also be able to connect with friends and family around the world through automatic social media updates on Facebook and Twitter.
The wristbands will also become a method of cashless payment accepted in certain areas of the course.
Antonia Beggs, operations director for the 2014 Ryder Cup, said: “Ryder Cup Europe and the key stakeholders wanted to deliver the best possible spectator experience.
“As social media, smartphones and mobile internet have become a part of everyday life, the RFID technology seemed a natural choice to lift the event beyond the standard set previously.”
Celebrity golf fans who have signed up as official ambassadors for the tournament include Match of the Day presenter Alan Hansen, Lorraine Kelly, supermodel and racing driver Jodie Kidd, JLS singer Marvin Humes, actor James Nesbitt and Dutch football legend Ruud Gullit.
They will also wear the wristbands, allowing them to interact with followers on the likes of Twitter and Facebook live from the event.
Mr Gullit said: “I’m looking forward to trying out the RFID wristbands at the Ryder Cup - they are a great addition for fans visiting Gleneagles, with interactive experiences set up all the way round the course.
“Fans visiting from all over the world will now be able to show support for their team by giving them a virtual high five.
“It’s going to be a real glimpse into the future of how live sports and social media can come together.”
The radio technology is embedded within a chip similar to that found in credit and debit cards, and contains information about the wearer.
This is uploaded to the tournament website when ticketholders register their bands.
Registration can be done via a tablet or smartphone or by volunteers within the tented village information centres.
The system were developed for Ryder Cup Europe by international event access firm Intellitix, a world leader in RFID technology.
The technology is also capable of allowing crowds to find acquaintances at the touch of a button, send ‘virtual’ drinks to welcome each other on site and buy credit in seconds.
Similar systems have already been used successfully at major sporting events and music festivals around the world, including last year’s Irish Open golf championship and football’s UEFA Champions Festival.
But next month’s event at Auchterarder is set to be the most interactive yet.
“Our RFID wristbands will mark the 2014 Ryder Cup out as something completely different to what has gone before in terms of interaction with spectators, media and indeed anyone visiting the course,” said Intellitix chief executive Serge Grimaux.
“The technology is totally secure and has been proven at a number of large-scale events across the world.”
In addition to the RFID wristbands, Ryder Cup Europe has been working with the Scottish Government and mobile phone providers to provide ultrafast 4G wireless connections across the venue.
This year will be the second time Scotland has hosted the Ryder Cup - the previous time was 41 years ago.
In 1973 the American team including Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino came out on top at Muirfield, in East Lothian.
This year’s teams will be announced on 2 September, with the final qualifying competition taking place at the end of the month.
Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Victor Dubuisson and Sergio Garcia have already earned a place in the title-holding Team Europe, which scooped the trophy after winning by a point over the US in Illinois in 2012.
The 2014 tournament is being held on the PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles, which was designed by golfing giant Jack Nicklaus.
The downside is the bands can also provide organisers with personal profiles of spectators and allow direct access for marketing based on an individual’s habits.
• Wristband images courtesty of idcband.co.uk