Coolest thing at MIT conference is the badges?

I’m still getting around to see a bunch of cool things here in Boston as I attend the MIT Emerging Technology conference but the coolest thing just might be the badges. They are electronic devices made by nTAG Interactive. First of all they got the visual part right. You can read people’s names from a good way away. It’s amazing how many conferences get that simple thing wrong.

Underneath the name badge is a device that’s a little longer than an iPhone. It is connected via wireless to a home server. They know which sessions you’ve attended and they can ask you survey questions (speakers can use the devices to get feedback in real time from the audience). But you can also use them to exchange an electronic business card. My device shows me I’ve exchanged cards with eight people so far. It’s weird, I don’t like using the device for that as much as just gathering a paper card. Partly because you have to hold the devices together to exchange cards.

Anyway, the coolest thing is that you can study how audiences interact with each other. Over on the NTAG blog they have interesting posts about whether men or women are better networkers or how people from the same company hang out together at events around the world and lots more.

They’ve also done a quick analysis of the people at the MIT conference.

Also on the device you can send messages to other attendees, plan your schedule, and more.

The one problem is that events are too short. Just when you figure out how cool the device is and how useful it might be you need to turn in the device and head to the airport, which is what I’m doing after I finish this post. We’re flying from Boston to San Francisco tonight.

Oh, and why doesn’t this add data to Dopplr and other services? Also, any photos I took could be matched up with data from this device to make tags on Flickr or other photo sharing service. My friends think I’m geeky when I ask for such things, but someday our devices WILL talk to such services.

One last thing: privacy is dead. Get over it. Off to the airport now.