RFID Offers More to Race Timing than Just Timing

Posted by Ken Lynch on Tue, Aug 02, 2011 @ 01:50 PM

Tags: RFID, Smart Displays, Sports & Entertainment, Race Timing

Marathon TimingMarathons are popping up everywhere. It appears as though there is one for everyone, with a slew taking place across the country over the summer including: the Extraterrestrial Full Moon Midnight Marathon near Area 51 in Nevada, the Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Marathon, and the Grandfather Mountain Marathon inNorth Carolina.

So, what better time to revisit race timing since we last blogged on the topic? In our previous post, we focused on how UHF RFID could be used for extremely precise timing, as well as the efficiencies gained by using RFID due to the technology’s ability to process a greater amount of data in a shorter period of time. Today, we thought we would highlight a few additional benefits of using UHF RFID in race timing applications as described in our latest Application Note: Designing Race Timing Applications Using UHF RFID Technology.

Checking-in participants before the race - The slow, manual process of checking-in racers on race day can be eliminated by mailing pre-associated RFID-enabled race bibs to the racers in advance. With an RIFD-enabled race system, participants get checked-in automatically via an RFID reader at the starting point, eliminating time consuming check-in processes that can impact a runners pre-race outlook.

The motivation factor - As we noted, marathons are attracting a wide demographic of people - from the born runner to the novice. But they all have one thing in common. Most runners want to be cheered on, celebrated and supported and this motivation can go a long way to help them dig deep to find what it takes to finish a grueling race. With the combination of RFID-enabled tags and check points, sponsors, friends or family can display personal motivational messages on big screens for individual racers or a group of racers at any given time. Or the statistical information of a particular racer could be presented at different check points so they can see their performance in relation to the rest of the field. This motivation factor is also very fitting for charity races and even walks.

The importance of real-time data - Without RFID, race coordinators have to record the time of each participant at certain milestones, which can be a tedious and is prone to human error. RFID systems automate the collection of timestamps by reading the participant’s bib at certain locations and updating them to a central database, which is then interrogated in real-time during the event or at the end of the race. Race statistics, like checkpoint time stamps, can also be stored on servers that can be made accessible via the web for participants to check their performance. These time-sensitive application requires fast data transfer between the reader and the tag and could not be achieved at the same level of accuracy with manual processes.

These are just a few of the ways that UHF RFID can be used to enhance the race day experience for race organizers and participants alike.  If you are designing a race system and interested in exploring RFID to enhance your solution, please download our Application Note here.

The next time you run a marathon or participate in a walk for charity, what message would push you to cross the finish line?

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