Messages on the Move

Posted by Ken Lynch on Wed, Dec 01, 2010 @ 03:03 PM

RFID Helps Cheer Marathoners Along New York City Route

Feaster FiveI had a great time last week running my town’s Thanksgiving morning road race - the Feaster Five – and hope to run again next year.  Running along side more than 10,000 other runners, joggers and walkers, including marathon legends Bill Rodgers, Joan Benoit Samuelson, and Team Hoyt, I was especially looking forward to cruising past my house and my own personal cheering section.  Being cheered on by friends and family can go a long way – even in a short 5 miler (or 5k in my case) like the Feaster Five. 

Now imagine running all 26 grueling miles and 385 yards of a marathon and all of the little things along the way that can help runners focus on making it across the finish line.  In previous blog posts we covered the use of RFID for race timing to record accurate start and finish times and provide runners with split times to help them set their pace.  We’ve also blogged about the use of RFID in smart signage to provide opt-in users with unique personalized messages.  Now, how about a combination of the two?

The New York Marathon is one of the world’s largest marathon events with over 45,000 runners and 2 million people cheering them on.  What a better place to combine the use of RFID already in place to time runners with the display of personalized messages from the family and friends of race participants.  ASICS America launched such a program as part of the 2010 New York Marathon.  Prior to the start of the race, ASICS setup a program site dedicated to taking photos, video and collecting personal messages, texts, tweets and Facebook comments from race supporters.  Then, the same RFID tags worn by racers for timing triggered the display of the messages on LED screens as they passed by sensor-enabled checkpoints throughout the marathon route.

Check out ASICS’ cool "support your marathoner" video:

I’ve experienced first hand how the motivation of others can help you push a little bit harder, run a little bit faster, and stay focused on the task at hand.  And, I for one know I’d need all the encouragement I could get if I were running a marathon!

The race route is one setting where motivation can help.  Where else do you think this type of solution could inspire others? 

Tags: RFID, Smart Displays, Race Timing, Social Networks

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