Across the globe, smart stadiums are continuing to integrate connectivity solutions and applications like the Internet of Things (IoT), with the aim of bringing fans the most captivating, personalized, and convenient experience possible. This was especially prevalent at the 2018 FIFA World Cup that recently took place in Russia. Being one of the largest international sporting events, the international soccer tournament attracted countless technology and innovation companies for sponsorship and marketing opportunities, along with using the event as a platform to showcase and test their products and networks.
Dutch semiconductor manufacturer NXP Semiconductors, who has been involved with the evolution of smart stadium technology since 2004, played an especial role among these corporate entities by using their MIFARE technology, which provided secure and contactless ticketing to the 2018 World Cup matches—including the final game between France and Croatia. MIFARE is NXP’s trademark series of chips that are used in contactless devices like smart and proximity cards.
Since events of the World Cup’s caliber inevitably attract scammers who prey on the high demand for tickets, FIFA emphasized the need to increase safety and security for fans, while providing fair ticket prices for all attendees by combatting secondary ticketing markets. To prevent illicit trading and ticket fraud without increasing the event’s security presence, all official 2018 FIFA World Cup tickets contained MIFARE Ultralight EV1 contactless integrated circuits (IC)—a smart radio frequency identification (RFID) chip featuring an authenticity check through a special originality signature. RFID and contactless solutions for access control, micropayments, or consumer engagement, give event owners access to valuable data about visitors, along with tallying accurate attendee profiling figures.
The IC stores information regarding the ticket’s admission and originality, which in turn protects spectators from counterfeits and provides the FIFA World Cup organizers with better insight into these grey markets. These results can then be used to improve operations, and offer more personalized fan experiences (and boosting event revenues). Attendees benefit from the venue’s convenient access through the ticket’s tap-and-go nature, which (when compared to barcode or QR-Code tickets) works faster for enabling swift access into an event, since visitors only need to tap their ticket to a contactless reader at the entrance to validate. These same MIFARE electronic ticketing solution technologies delighted fans at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup as a result of its ease-of-use and ability to detect cloned tickets.
The company’s NTAG NFC technology was also utilized for enabling all new connected experiences with the match’s official bass—the Adidas Telstar 18, which many consider to be the most innovative FIFA World Cup ball to date. The NFC technology enables the Telstar 18 to interact with devices like smartphones, so they can display specific details of each ball, while providing access to challenges that users could enter in the run-up to the FIFA World Cup.