Endemol, one of the largest independent production companies in the UK, is using RFID technology to track housemates in the 2009 Celebrity Big Brother series, running live now on UK television.
The tracking system, implemented by Wavetrend, will enable the show's producers to monitor the movements and habits of the housemates. They will be able to analyse where in the house the celebrities spend most of their time, and which housemates they are in close proximity with over the course of their stay in the house.
The programme psychologists will also be able to interpret the behaviour, and housemates voted off may be questioned on their movements in the Big Brother house with information derived from the RFID system.
Wavetrend was briefed by the series producers on the project in November 2008, and – in less than three weeks – the company surveyed the area and designed, installed and commissioned 15 of their readers across various points in the house. Locations included the smoking area, bedrooms, diary room and bathrooms. The company also provided its specialised 'personnel' tags for housemates to wear throughout the series.
The show's viewers will be able to watch the house floor plan via a studio display, which will indicate each of the housemates with a tracking beacon. The data can then be analysed to show the movement patterns over a 24-hour period.
"We were looking for a device to give a new dimension to Big Brother's Little Brother and personal tracking came up in a brainstorm meeting. Our aim was to work in conjunction with a tracking company to give us a constant stream of facts and figures that would complement the information received from the 24 hour television coverage already in the house. If the system proves as successful as we hope we will look into using this technology again in the future," says Gareth Collett, executive producer of Celebrity BBLB 2009.
Saleem Miyan, CEO of Wavetrend, adds: "Our technology is primarily used for tracking high value assets, people and vehicles. When we were approached by Endemol, we thought Celebrity Big Brother sounded like an exciting and fun project and something we could easily configure our technology to suit."