Are Festivals Becoming Too Technological?

Last weekend, attendees of The Eurosonic festival in The Netherlands were the first to test out a new design set to move away from the classic model of the festival wristband, containing a highly advanced microchip.

By testing out this new technology ahead of the Summer festival season, the designers, a company named Intellitix, are hoping to eliminate increasing ticket fraud and touting, and will also have the capacity to have credit loaded onto it in order to purchase goods on the festival site. The main purpose of the wristbands will be for general admission into festival sites, with the hope of lessening queues as wristbands will be scanned by handheld devices or turnstiles on entry (and exit). Once scanned, the wristbands will allow festival organisers to see and track track data of the festival-goers.

But are these wristbands a good idea?

Well, critics and Glastonbury organiser, Michael Eavis have already deemed them as potentially "too commercial." Eavis especially is worried about the commercial implications of the chip, as well as the ability to gain information about people from the chip in the wristband. However, the chief of Intellitix has denied that the tracking chip technology is invasive of people's privacy, as wearers can choose to be anonymous.

Other concerns with wristband have been about the possible increase in ticket prices in order to pay for this new technology, but again, we have been reassured that the microchips cost "pennies" to produce. So far, more than a million people have used the wristbands, but there is more information to come.

So, as a previous festival-goer, I'm going to give you my opinion on these wristbands. From what I can remember from my festival experiences, the queueing was never a particularly bad part of the day. You're with your friends, you've cracked open the beers and you've turned on the portable speakers proceeding to sing along to the acts your most looking forward to seeing. You also inevitably meet some proper weirdos in the queue, making for a highly entertaining couple of hours which, quite frankly, can often be more memorable than some of the sets you see over the weekend. However, what technology could really improve in terms of queuing and entry, is the standard, bag and luggage spot-check! This is what takes so long (you wouldn't believe what some people bring with them)!

The other thing that comes to mind is whether you can continue wearing the wristband once the festival is over? Because for me, this was one of the most important aspects of being a festival-goer. In musical circles, amongst friends and even on public transport, the glimpse of a colourful (or slightly dirty if it had been worn for a long time) wristband was a specific status symbol. Certain wristbands meant different things, and also the number of wristbands on one wrist was also extremely important! It was a way of making part of your life, your personality, visible to the world - I like music. And I like watching it live at festivals. I also discovered that there is a timespan of two years after the event, give or take, in which you are allowed to keep said wristband on. After that, it was often viewed as a little disgusting (despite it being washed with you everyday, they still got a little grimy). So, with the possibility of this new technological wristband becoming a reality, the potential of wiping out a whole festival sub-culture may well become a sad and harsh truth.

There are many other disadvantages to these festival wristbands, but as long as ticket prices are not compromised, I guess it can't be all that bad. After all, it has to come down to music. But we want to hear from you - what do you think?

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