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The Facebook Presence Card

The Facebook Presence Card

During my time spent at Facebook’s F8 conference I was given the opportunity to use a digitally enabled “presence” card that allowed me to interact with real world objects, and have it push and pull data to and from my Facebook profile. This is an amazing technology that went rather unannounced at the conference, but following my many discussions of its potential use, I found it to be one of the more exciting pieces displayed at the event.

Upon entering the event, and having connected my Facebook profile to my ticket purchase, I was given the small card, which was the size of a normal business card. I believe that inside of the card is a normal RFID chip, however I cannot be sure, as I have not dissected mine. Accompanying the card and chip were multiple sensors connected to numerous activities through the F8 lobby. These activities used my Facebook profile data in different ways, each demonstrating a different use of the core technology.

The first activity I interacted with was a simple photo booth with a touch-screen that enabled photo tagging on the spot before it uploaded the photo to my profile on my behalf. With the help of an event staff member my colleges and I snapped a pic, touched the sensor with our cards which glowed green to acknowledge a connection, and tagged our photos all within 3 seconds. A snazzy tool, and something that can certainly go a long way at other events like weddings.

The next activity I noticed was the giant wall of information, being augmented by ever attendant that chose to check-in, a process made easier with the presence card and a sensor near the main entrance. The wall presented profile images of attendants, and numerous real-time info graphics. One of the main sections of the wall displayed “face-offs,” or comparisons of like counts for different Open Graph objects, displayed in three columns. The columns showed the like count comparisons of event attendees, people in San Francisco, and finally all of Facebook. It was cool to see how the event attendees’ interests compared to the city and the entire Facebook user base.


The "Pen" enabled by the presence card

One of the coolest activities using the presence card was the “ play-pen,” as I like to call it, was basically a fenced off area for users to interact and compare profile data in real time with anyone else in the pen by using the card to synch their profiles. I jumped in and invited others to compare their data with mine and was delighted to see some connection lines form showing that we had similar interest. All of this was accomplished by infrared sensors and over-head projects, along with a large screen containing a legend for the info graphic surrounding each person in the pen.

Now all of this has been exciting for sure, but the next activity actually showed where this type of tech may be stretching a bit. There was the ability for users to manipulate the music playlist being played in the lobby by tapping their cards to another sensor. When it was my turn, the application searched my numerous musical interests as listed in my profile, chose a band, and chose one song from that band’s library of music. However I was a bit surprised and embarrassed by the song selected, even more so when my name was associated next to it. This showed a weakness in random pulls of data from Facebook profiles, there may be some lingering data in your profile that you would really rather not appear in public, let alone on a screen in front of hundreds of people.

All in all the many uses of the presence card were impressive to say the least. I imagined many uses for this card, most importantly how it could be used in museums and other information centers to provide additional information for use later on, such as home work assignments for school children on field trips. The idea is fascinating, and from my perspective it would be in Facebook’s interest to make these cards more readily available. If they were, I can imagine many brick and motor institutions to develop numerous ways of using the technology to enhance user interaction. Oh and the best part of all of this was the story of how this technology was developed. It all started with a HACK member wanting to find an easier way of announcing to his friends that he just poured himself a beer at a keg.



About the Author

Mario Magliozzi

Mario currently manages a community of over 250,000 members on the Facebook page, Twitter accounts, and blogs of Acting as the’s Social Media Manager, Mario manages all of the advertisements, content and technology behind’s growing social media strategy. Having built this community from the ground up, Mario is extremely knowledgeable of the current state of social media, it’s potential as a business driver, and it’s true capabilities regardless of the hype. Having graduated California State University Chico with a degree in Communication Design, and an emphasis in Graphic Design, Mario is uniquely positioned to be an efficient and powerful social media manager. When Mario isn’t working on increasing fan engagement, or advertising CTR’s, he is down in the workshop building custom motorcycles or out riding them in the hills of Northern California.

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