Equipping fans with LED wristbands has been an ever growing trend at live events. Whether it’s to light up a stadium during the Super Bowl Halftime show or to give Oprah Winfrey a grand welcome to the stage, they have been enhancing the look and energy of events all across the country. By arming guests with these wristbands, boring spaces can be turned into thrilling light shows. Not only does it look amazing but it also gets the fans more engaged. Rather than just spectating they are actively participating in the creation of the overall event. This pushes people to want to get to the event earlier, driving up concession and alcohol sales. Having a more engaged audience is extremely beneficial for live events of all kinds. From sporting events to concerts to speaking engagements, these LED wristbands create viral content while also immersing the audience even more into the experience.
While adding this type of technology can greatly enhance an event, it is important to make sure that the wristbands that are being used are compliant with the rules and regulations set forth by the Federal Communications Commission. The LED wristbands utilize radio frequencies to control when the lights go on, change colors, and coordinate the actions of each on throughout a stadium so that a cohesive show can be put on. A large antenna sends out radio frequencies out to all the LED wristbands. The command has to be broadcast out very powerfully in a stadium but if the frequency is too high it can be harmful to radio communication devices and sometimes even to a person’s skin. According to the FCC rules, specifically Section 15.109 radiated emissions are limited from 30 MHz to 1000 MHz. These devices can create a unique experience at a live event, but if they are not complaint then they can cause problems, for attendees, event organizers, and wristband providers.
Problems for Attendees
As mentioned, if the frequency is too high then it can have dangerous effects on the environment it is operating in. If attendees are equipped with the technology on their wrists then the risk is increased for their physical well being potentially. That is in extreme cases. Even in the less extreme, important communication devices could be affected. For example, emergency response or alert systems can be deemed inoperable if too much radio frequency is present from other devices. This can cause horrible mayhem in the event of a real emergency. In a less chaotic situation, too high of a frequency can affect the overall production of the event causing an unpleasant experience for guests. Since attendees cannot control what devices are chosen, the responsibility is in the hands of event organizers to ensure that the vendors they choose are FCC compliant.
Problems for Event Organizers
For event organizers, the risk of having a stadium full of guests equipped with potentially dangerous devices should not be overlooked. This is why it is important for leadership to ensure that the vendors being used are compliant. Many times companies will import devices from China and other countries that do not have the same rigid rules that the United States has. While this can be a money saving choice in the short term it can potentially lead to more costly repercussions in the long run.
If any attendees are harmed in a result from the radio emissions being so high they experience bodily harm, then that could result in a lawsuit. If they emissions affect emergency response and alert systems, the results could be chaotic and potentially life threatening. Both of these outcomes would create detrimental situations for an event in addition to negative press. This is why it is essential to ensure that devices that are used are complaint and operate within the emission guidelines.
In the less extreme side of things, the LED wristbands could interfere with the production of the event. The radio emissions could cause interference with wireless microphones, lighting, communication, and other essential production devices. This can lead to unplanned interruptions during the event. The event can also appear disorganized or unprofessional. It can lead to unwanted viral moments or negative comments online as every attendee these days is equipped with a smartphone and ready to give feedback at a moments notice.
Problems for Wristband Providers
It is important for companies that provide LED wristbands that use radio frequency technology to make sure that all their partners and vendors prioritize FCC compliance. Failure to do so can result in not being able to operate further. Getting on the FCC’s bad side would lead to operations being halted, money lost, and negative publicity. The FCC recommends “To help mitigate interference from lighting devices into authorized radio services, responsible parties are
encouraged to: use good engineering design and construction techniques, to meet and even exceed the required attenuation of unwanted emissions; extend compliance testing beyond the frequency range guidance traditionally required; and provide suggested interference mitigation techniques to users on how to resolve harmful interference problems.” Providers should ensure that they are being diligent by following the rules rather than taking measures to cut corners in order to lower costs.
Lighting up a stadium with a sea of wristbands all changing in perfect choreography to a song can be a fantastic way to liven up any event. However, in order to create this unique experience, especially in a large stadium, high powered devices are required. The LED wristbands that are used to create this magic receive radio frequencies in order to control the colors and actions of the lights. Because of this, the regulations of these devices falls under that of the FCC. Compliance to the rules and regulations set forth by the FCC is critical. Not doing so can negatively affect attendees, event organizers, and wristband providers. Those negative effects include interference with radio communication devices including potential emergency alert systems, interference with production devices, bodily harm, negative press, interruptions in the event, and potential hault of