Big Brother is tracking you

Activity in the January run of TV’s Celebrity Big Brother (CBB) has for the first time been monitored by RFID (radio frequency identification) technology from Wavetrend, so that housemates’ movements can be captured and analysed by the psychologists in the Big Brother’s Little Brother show.

Fifteen readers fitted around the CBB house will track tags attached to housemates’ radio microphones, which they are required to wear at all times.

The system enables the show’s producers to ascertain where in the CBB house the contestants spend most of their time, and which fellow housemates they are in closest proximity to over the course of their stay. Viewers can watch a digital house floorplan that indicates each housemate with a tracking beacon; data can then be analysed to trace movement patterns over a given period. The information profiles can also be used to quiz housemates on their habits and motivations when they are voted off.

“The CBB deployment is breaking new ground for us,” says Wavetrend CEO Saleem Miyan. “Our RFID technology is primarily used to track high-value assets, such as vehicles, equipment in data centres, or people working in potentially hazardous environments.”

Miyan adds: “We had to adapt our technology so that it could track tags moving around eachother, and across short and long distances simultaneously, and ensure that individual celebrities could be differentiated for the purposes of the studio display. Usually RFID is about ensuring assets don’t stray away from where they are supposed to be.”

Miyan believes that the CBB connection will enhance awareness of the potential of RFID among the viewing public: “Most people don’t realise that RFID has become in intrinsic part of our lives, and the CBB application shows how versatile it can be.”

Wavetrend is in discussions with CBB producer Endemol with a view to extending the RFID element to other Big Brother series. The value of the contract is not being disclosed.

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