Crowdshaping: How Technology is Fueling the Next Wave of Epic Dance Parties

Half electronic dance party, and half social experiment, a unique, interactive, hybrid event made waves at last year’s SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas (USA). It was called the “Bioreactive Concert” and explored how science and technology can be used to throw an epic dance party.

Upon arrival, partygoers were given a wristband which tracked their movement, temperature and excitement throughout the event. The data drawn from each attendee was used to shape the experience that unfolded in the room. The only rule of this experiment? Don’t take off the wristband.

The Bioreactive Concert is an early example of an emerging technology trend which is set to reshape our cities, transform retail and multiple other industries, revolutionize our media and change the way we live. The trend is called, “Crowdshaping” and will connect us in a way that we have never been connected before. So what, exactly, is crowdshaping? In essence, it is a means of using personal data drawn from the people inside a defined physical area to shape and reshape — often in real-time — a product or service that those people use. Whether it be small crowdshaping, which shapes and reshapes a particular product or service around the preferences of the people in a small area (like an office, restaurant or plane) or big crowdshaping which is based on aggregated data from a large group of consumers, technology is fueling this exciting new wave of social innovation.

Wearable technology is shaping the way that we interact with our devices and the world around us. The Lightwave sensor equipped wristbands which were distributed to Bioreactive Concert attendees, measured key physiological metrics: movement, heart rate, body temperature and more. This data was transmitted wirelessly to Lightwave’s system, which created elaborate, interactive visuals.

However, Lightwave isn’t just for making artsy visualizations. Users were also offered an incentive to keep their energy up. When the temperature of the crowd reached a set point, for example, the crowd ‘unlocked’ a round of drinks. Meanwhile, visible leaderboards rated individual dancers for energy, and, during a ‘boys vs girls dance-off’, both teams competed to see who could dance the most energetically. Essentially the hotter and sweatier they got, the more rewards they’d unlock.

“This is really about increasing audience joy and emotional engagement,” says DJ Rana June, the creator of the Lightwave technology. “Speaking as a performer, when an audience is wearing Lightwave you have a whole new palette to work with. When is the crowd excited? When are they disengaging?” The data gathered lets performers gauge their audience’s interest in a scientific way and enables them to tailor their performance accordingly. It’s more than just dance parties, this invention could transform all kinds of live experiences. “This new type of audience sentiment data leads to better events and better fan experiences than ever before possible” says June.

Imagine a time when live TV audiences sitting in their homes all over the world— could wear a device that syncs data on their emotional engagement back to the broadcaster. TV could be directed on the fly, according to what the data reveals, creating crowdshaped television. 

The implications for using Lightwave technology in live and broadcast media are great, but so are those for brands and businesses of other kinds. Most of us are already walking around with a sensor-laden device — our smartphone — that is host to an ocean of data about our movements, tastes, preferences and interests. Soon retailers, will start to employ in-store technology that can aggregate and use data to reshape their shopper’s experience. There could be crowdshaped in-store music or advertising for example, or even crowdshaped climate control, lighting and refreshments on commercial flights. The possibilities are endless when it comes to this technology, very soon all of our experiences will be completely customized and crowdshaped.

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