RFID Scoring Big in the Sports World

Posted by Ken Lynch on Mon, Jun 10, 2013 @ 12:03 PM

Tags: RFID, Event Management, Access Control, Attendance Management, Race Timing

SportsIt’s that time of year again, when stadiums are filled with baseball fans, greens are manicured for golfers and trails are rampant with runners training for the next race. All of these activities bring with them a wide range of opportunities to leverage the power of RFID. From enhancing the fan experience to precisely measuring race times, RFID is making a case for itself as an essential element to sports activities, teams and events.

One area in which RFID has been making a big impact is in event ticketing. Dating back several years to the 2005 Tennis Master’s World Cup in Shanghai, China, RFID inlays were embedded into all 100,000 tickets for the event and were scanned using stationary readers at the gates to grant spectators entrance to the venue. Prior to this system, spectators were required to purchase a pre-event ticket, and exchange it on game day for the physical ticket at the box office. This new system ensured that those granted access were genuine ticket holders, and streamlines the entry process. The following year, the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany became the largest use of RFID in sports ticketing to date with twelve venues, sixty-four games and 3.5 million tickets. One of the main reasons that FIFA, and several other organizations choose to employ RFID technology in ticketing, was to enhance security and prevent counterfeiting.  This use of RFID continues today with many event organizers investing in automated RFID-enabled systems to replace legacy manual and error prone processes.

RFID technology has also shown its ability to enhance other aspects of a fan’s experience, aside from security. Across the pond in the UK, the Scotcomms Technology Group is working with several leading football clubs and their season ticket holders. Scotcomms’ contactless ticketing solution, TeamCard, benefits both the ticket holders and teams themselves by deriving incremental revenue from unused tickets. When a season ticket holder notifies the box office that they will not be attending a game, £10 are loaded onto the fan’s TeamCard to be redeemed for team merchandise or refreshments at the next game they attend. In turn, the team can then sell the unused ticket for an average profit of £15. Additionally, fans can participate in sports betting at the stadiums by using their TeamCard to place wagers against friends or other fans.

RFID technology is also found in many state-side sports. As many golfers have experienced, one can spend hours combing through thorns and thistles to try and locate a lost ball. However thanks to RFID technology, the hunt may be over. Radar Golf has developed an RFID equipped golf ball that can be located with an RFID reader using the company’s Ball Positioning System (BPS). Similar to a metal detector, the handheld BPS will beep at an increasing rate as the user gets closer and closer to the ball being read.

While the technology may be newer to the golf game, road racers, cyclists, triathletes and skiers are already very familiar with RFID applications. RFID has had a presence in the racing world for many years and has undeniably enhanced the visibility aspect of the sport. ChampionChip pioneered the use of this technology in the 1994 Berlin Marathon and athletes have been running with it ever since. With marathon season in full swing, many race participants find this technology to be a crucial part of the sport and an efficient tool for recording real-time data Tracking devices are attached to race participants while passive-RFID technology records racer’s real net times as they pass antennas throughout the course, as well as at the start and finish lines. This technology also allows for friends, family, and fans who are watching the races to locate their participants and position themselves along the course to cheer them on at different locations and present personalized messages of encouragement. Many runners find this technology to be a very efficient tool for recording real-time data and measuring their performance.

Whether it is streamlined security, increased profits or saved time on the golf course, RFID technology has found place in the sports community, and as the technology advances, we expect RFID will continue to enhance the overall experience of sports fans world-wide.

RFID + Cloud + BIM for Managing Personnel in Vertical Construction

Posted by Bernd Schoner on Wed, Dec 05, 2012 @ 03:54 PM

Tags: RFID, Big Data, Access Control, Asset Management, Construction

ThingMagic has had the opportunity to design, build and run an RFID–based personnel management system on a large construction project in California. Only three months after going-live, the general contractor is blown away by the system benefits and the richness of the collected data.

Construction management and building owners used to have to wait for weeks and months to get data on how their projects have actually been staffed. The new RFID-based system provides this information in real-time during each workday. Construction site management used to deploy several security guards and supervisors for the sole purpose of monitoring the work force in different sections of the building. Using the new system, management can monitor the flow of people in and out of zones from the office trailer: if a person enters an unauthorized zone, an instant email alert is sent to the designated supervisor. Most importantly, should there ever be an emergency evacuation event on site, the system provides real-time updates on who is left in the building and where.

System Overview

We have deployed a three-tier system with a distinct sensor layer, database layer, and application layer.

describe the image

Figure 1: RFID-based Personnel Management in Vertical Construction: Major system components and system architecture.

Every worker on the construction site is issued a passive UHF-RFID-enabled ID card, which the individual wears on a lanyard around the neck. The sensor infrastructure consists of RFID-reader-enabled secure turnstiles for access to and egress from the job site; inside the building under construction we have installed Mercury6 RFID readers and antennas to systematically cover the entry areas of the building, staircase landings, man-lift landings, and the entrance areas of elevators banks. As a worker moves from one building section to another, the portal readers pick up the badge ID of the worker and associate the individual with the new space or zone.  

Raw sensor data is sent in real-time to a cloud-based database, where the data is translated into high-level events such as zone entries and exits, and then stored.

A multitude of web-enabled applications have access to the event data through a web API.

BIM Integration

The General Contractor and other stakeholders are given access to the data via a number of interfaces, including a mobile-device friendly web portal and email reports and notifications. However, the core filtering and reporting engine has been implemented as a plug-in to Tekla Structures, the comprehensive Building Information Modeling (BIM) and CAT software developed by our sister division Tekla.

The construction manager can visualize the personnel deployment on site within the 3D model. He or she has the ability to specify the time window of interest, the subcontractor, the zone, and other properties. The selected population of workers or a particular individual is presented along with a work zone selected in the model.

Benefits

Why would a general contractor or project owner deploy this system? Our RFID-based people management system provides:

  • Real-time visibility into worker location during an evacuation event
  • Instant alerts on security or safety breaches 
  • Instantaneous reports on sub-contractor staffing levels
  • Real-time updates on personnel-related compliance issues or ordinances.

Floor Detail

Figure 2: Full-time equivalent construction personnel over a period of about seven weeks by day, subcontractor, and zone of the building under construction.

Supported by RFID and cloud-computing, emerging life-cycle management solutions are enabling new levels of innovation, productivity, collaboration, and growth in the construction market and others.  Organizations that can best harness this “Big data” opportunity will hold a distinct competitive advantage.

Sports & Entertainment – The Next Market to Drive RFID Adoption?

Posted by Ken Lynch on Thu, May 31, 2012 @ 12:12 PM

Tags: RFID, Sports & Entertainment, Access Control, Attendance Management

Nats TixNot too long ago we blogged about the Tampa Bay Lightning embedding RFID tags in the jerseys worn by season ticket holders. The strategy was to encourage repeat customers and increase sales and revenue. Could the Sports & Entertainment market be the next major adopter of RFID? It seems as though the idea of using technology to build brand loyalty in this segment is catching on.

The Washington Nationals have also embarked on an RFID-fueled rewards program that links ticketing, concessions, merchandise and parking to keep their fans coming back and spending money.

At Nationals Park RFID readers have been installed at the front gate, as well as at refreshment stands and merchandise shops. With RFID-enabled turnstiles, fans required an average of less than three seconds to enter the park as opposed to almost 10 seconds when tickets were manually scanned. And, if a fan has earned enough points to merit a freebee such as a hot dog, t-shirt, or even a game ticket, he will receive a text message or an e-mail indicating as such, if he has opted into the program.

However, brand loyalty isn’t the only business benefit that will drive RFID adoption in the sports and entertainment market. Anyone who has ever tried to buy tickets to a Red Sox vs. Yankees game knows that those tickets are in such high demand, they usually sell out as soon as they go on sale. If you were at Ray Bourque’s last game in Boston in a Bruins uniform, you’d recall there was not an empty seat in the house, or in the aisle for that matter. It makes sense that franchises would want to capitalize on those peak demand situations.

Enter dynamic pricing. The concept has been around for a while, but it has only just recently taken off in sports. With dynamic pricing, not only can the franchise profit more from the games everyone wants to attend, they can appropriately value tickets for the games that aren’t as popular. For example if the weather is bad or if there is another major event happening at the same time, the tickets can be priced accordingly and both the fans and the franchise are happy. 

According to a Forbes story, “Ticket pricing technologies have advanced to the point where it has become logistically more efficient to implement dynamic pricing in sports.” The article doesn’t specifically mention RFID, but based on what we’ve seen with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Nationals, RFID could assist with dynamic pricing adoption because of the customer identification and direct messaging it could help facilitate.

Qcue, the company that develops software for dynamic pricing, has seen clients increase revenue by an average of about 30% in high demand situations and approximately 5-10% in low demand situations. It would be interesting to see how much the profit margins could increase by integrating with an RFID solution.

Leading Oncology Clinics Recognize Merits of RFID

Posted by Ken Lynch on Tue, Nov 22, 2011 @ 09:55 AM

Tags: RFID, Asset Tracking, Healthcare, Patient Tracking, Access Control, Document Management

XECAN RFIDThe state of Massachusetts has long been considered a hub for technology innovation and medical research. So, it’s no wonder that RFID linked the two together in our own backyard.

Recently, ThingMagic announced that several leading oncology clinics had deployed RFID solutions in order to improve patient safety and radiation treatment reliability. In the cases of Commonwealth Newburyport Cancer Center, Lahey Clinic and Jordan Hospital, they looked to RFID to help eliminate “wrong patient, wrong treatment,” commonly associated with human error.

The cure has arrived! No, it’s not medicine. It’s innovation with RFID. In the image to the left, a Jordan Hospital patient is wearing a XECAN lanyard with an RFID badge. When the patient walks into a CT scan room he is identified automatically by a ThingMagic Astra UHF RFID Reader installed in that room. Because of the extended read range of the reader, patients need only pass within approximately 15 feet to be recognized. Not to worry. Patient-identifiable information can only be viewed within the clinic, and only by authorized staff members.

When the patient's badge is read, their chart and treatment plan are immediately opened by the XECAN system. If another patient’s chart is open in the system at the time the new patient arrives at the CT scan room, the first chart is closed and the chart of the patient who is physically present is automatically opened. Treatment devices are also tagged so that they can be detected by ThingMagic Astra readers during treatment. Radiation cannot be started if treatment devices are incorrect or missing. Thi added measure of reliability delivered by the XECAN system gives patients and doctors peace of mind.

By automatically identifying the patient, the system eliminates the need for the patient to correct the spelling of their name or reiterate their appointment time, for example, when they have already signed up for an emotionally and physically taxing day. Reducing the manual tasks of the hospital staff allows them to spend more quality time with the patients.

In this application, RFID also replaces ID cards with barcodes which can often be cumbersome for the patients to scan if they’ve become worn.

When you put it all together – fewer manual tasks for clinicians, peace of mind for the patient and improved reliability for the doctors - the oncology clinics mentioned can offer a far more inviting medical experience. The situation allows for a more successful treatment. And who wouldn’t want that?

If you would like more information about this deployment, please download our case study:

Click me

We plan to check in with these Massachusetts clinics in a few months to see how the implementation is going and if they’ve discovered even more unexpected benefits from using the RFID system.

We're also interested in your thoughts about the use of RFID in healthcare.  Where to you think it will have the most impact? What RFID-based systems are most effective? Is it best to start with small departmental deployments and scale or go for a full enterprise-wide deployment from the start?

RFID and The CSI Effect

Posted by Ken Lynch on Tue, Dec 07, 2010 @ 10:10 AM

Tags: Evidence Tracking, RFID, Access Control

Efficiently Tracking Evidence from Collection to Storage

Crime Scene Evidence“The Houston Police Department has discovered evidence from thousands of cases that was improperly tagged and lost in its property room, suggesting that problems with handling evidence may go back 25 years …HPD officials said it appears that evidence from as many as 8,000 cases, from 1979 to 1991, was packed into the 280 cartons.”

Houston Chronicle, August 27, 2004

The above excerpt from a Houston Chronicle article is certainly not what you’d like to read if the evidence in questions was related to an investigation you were involved in.  But hey, I watch CSI, Law & Order, Blue Bloods and other crime dramas on TV and this stuff happens.  Right?

Kidding aside, keeping track of key pieces of evidence is extremely important and can sometimes mean the difference between guilty or not guilty and even life and death for some.  Not only can lost evidence call into question the verdicts of trial cases, but just because the evidence is found does not necessarily mean it can be used immediately to re-open cases in question.  According to the Houston Chronicle, it was expected take the HPD approximately 12 months to catalog the lost evidence it found, further delaying its use in the investigatory process.

To address these challenges, several companies are developing RFID-enabled solutions for tagging and tracking evidence as it moves through collection and on to analysis and storage.  The result is an electronic record of where the evidence is, where it has been and who has accessed it.

For example, Bode Technology, one of the world's largest DNA analysis firms, has piloted an RFID system to electronically document the chain of custody of DNA evidence.  Marketed as Bode-RFID, the system is designed to replace manual processes that use barcodes and handwritten paper manifests that are time consuming to prepare and open to human error and loss.  The Bode-RFID solution pulls together all of the key components of a successful solution including an Avery Dennison RFID tags, printers from Zebra Technology, UHF RFID readers enclosed in industrial portals from Jamison Door, and importantly, data integration into Laboratory Information Management (LIM) systems.

By combining RFID-enabled evidence tracking with other uses of RFID like document and file tracking and weapons tracking, it seems like the criminal justice system may be ready to enter a new era – one where visibility can be extended across historically challenging departmental and operational silos.

After all, we’ve got to keep up with the CSI effect.

RFID for Student Tracking

Posted by Ken Lynch on Mon, Nov 15, 2010 @ 12:34 PM

Tags: RFID, Access Control, Attendance Management, Student Tracking

Let Us Know What Grade You Think it Deserves

Lecture HallThe benefits of RFID-enabled student tracking solutions are clear.  In many cases, they can help schools do more efficiently and effectively what they’re already doing manually – like providing secure access to a building and recording attendance.  But at what grade level does student tracking become a privacy issue?  Is it OK to use new technologies to track minors in a public high school to deal with problems of truancy or absenteeism?  How about in a public secondary school where attendance is mandatory?  What about college classes attended by paying adults?

In a post earlier this year, we asked the question: School's out, do you know where your child is?  The post explored placing RFID readers on school buses, tagging students’ backpacks and integrating the data into an attendance and transportation monitoring system.  The goals?  To keep track of young school children in an effort to reduce the chance they get on the wrong bus, get off at the wrong stop or are left on the bus after a route is complete.  Seems like a good idea for kindergarten and elementary school level kids and most parents seem to be in favor of the idea.

The reaction is not quite the same at Northern Arizona University where students are protesting plans to monitor their attendance using RFID chips embedded in their student IDs.  The intent is to install RFID readers in class rooms that hold 50 or more students where it can be difficult to take attendance.  School officials are making the argument that the more classes a student attends, the better their academic performance.  The plan is to provide attendance data to instructors, allowing them to incorporate it into their grading system.  Note: NAU student IDs have included RFID tags for the past four years to provide access to residence halls and athletic buildings and administrators see this as an extended benefit of the technology.

In an age where the cost of higher education increases yearly and competition to attract students is stiff, one could see why universities would want to graduate more students with good grades – and leverage new technologies to help them do so.  Parents footing the bill for school may also find their kid’s attendance data interesting.  Opponents, however, question the use of identification and tracking technologies in a place where young adults are expected to learn use their best judgment and make sound decisions on their own.

Share your thoughts with us.  What grade would you give a university that uses RFID to track student attendance?  How about an elementary school installing RFID on busses in an effort to provide safe transportation for their young students?

RFID Gets Waterproofed

Posted by Ken Lynch on Tue, Nov 02, 2010 @ 07:30 AM

Tags: RFID, Wristband Tags, Access Control, Attendance Management

Helps Control Crowds at the Pool and More

Caddy DayPossibly inspired in part by the Livestrong bracelets, some companies have invented waterproof RFID wristbands for a variety of purposes. One that has received some attention is the 13.56 MHz RFID waterproof wristband tag by GAO RFID. Going hand-in-hand with this month’s theme of identifying, locating and tracking people, this product was made to help manage attendance in swimming pools. The tags are also used to monitor saunas and outdoor water parks. As the number of people increases for any type of water activity, so do the risk factors, so club owners may find this appealing because it could potentially help limit their liability.  And with that could come lower insurance premiums.

The tag can withstand temperatures ranging from -40 degrees Celsius to 70 degrees Celsius and is resistant to vibration that might be caused when a person jumps into the water. An added bonus - clubs and parks can use it as an advertising tool because names, logos and graphics can be printed on the wristbands.  Because of their sturdy design and versatility, the RFID wristbands could also be used to manage swimmers at camp and students on field trips that may involve water sports. I’m pretty sure the owner of my gym would like it so he could better manage time slots at the pool, giving families and avid lap swimmers their turn without the usual hassle.  

Not sure about you, but I just got an image of “Caddy Day,” when I thought of trying to keep the number of excited pool goers to a controlled amount. The lifeguard in Caddyshack could certainly have used some RFID assistance to instill some order and safety!

Synometrix took the waterproofing a step further and combined that feature with being disposable, geared toward medical facilities. These seem like they would be perfect for monitoring newborns in the maternity ward and several other healthcare applications (more on this topic in a future post). These disposable tags also lend themselves nicely to managing access at large events, like concerts with general admission where crowd control can be an issue.

We’re in the digital age, so we shouldn’t need to have a group life guards or a ticket collectors manning turnstiles struggling to manage crowds and the safety of each individual. We’re beyond that - with the help of RFID.

RFID Puts Las Vegas Under Lock & Key

Posted by Ken Lynch on Fri, Oct 01, 2010 @ 11:50 AM

Tags: RFID, Access Control, Hospitality

Taking Luxury Guest Rooms to the Next Level

Some of you may have had the pleasant experience of getting to your hotel room and finding a chilled bottle of champagne with a card wishing you a Happy Anniversary or Congratulations on Your Nuptials from “the management.” It’s a simple gesture that goes a long way, just because they were paying attention in Reservations and knew how to share the right information with the right people. 

If we can get excited about something like that, imagine how happy and loyal guests would be if hotel management knew we wanted to sign up for the first tee time, or wanted the coveted 8:00 pm dinner reservation, or desperately wanted the maid to stay away until noon. Sign me up, right? So what are we waiting for?

Hint: The enabling solution would also eliminate the demagnetization problem with swiped key cards.

MT RFID LockThe answer: An RFID guest room locking system which eliminates the need to swipe, but even better, enables a deeper level of personalization for the guests.

ARIA at CityCenter was one of the first Las Vegas resorts to install an RFID guest room locking system. With KABA Saflok Messenger, the hotel door lock system can be put on the network which allows ARIA staff to interact with rooms in such a way that makes the guests' visit more personable, and therefore more pleasurable.

The RFID technology lets the guests unlock the door by flashing their key over a lock reader. No swiping involved. The Saflok RFID system communicates with a wireless network of technologies in the guest rooms. Control4 Corporation was brought in to help enhance the guest experience. For example, when a guest opens the door for the first time, Saflok sends a message via a Zigbee mesh wireless network to the Control4 in-room controller, which activates a 'welcome theme.' The welcome theme prompts certain activities, curtains parting to showcase the view and the TV displaying controls for guests to personalize, that best serve newly arriving guests. From there, more personalized services await for the remainder of their stay.  

The bonus is that an RFID key cannot be demagnetized by cell phones or other similar devices which has been quite problematic across the hotel industry. And as with most RFID applications, this one also comes with added operational efficiencies. Fewer moving lock parts and automatically monitored batteries reduce maintenance. And since CityCenter's guest rooms and RFID door locks are integrated with the network, guests can change rooms without needing to make changes to their key.  How’s that for modern convenience?

RFID for Border Security

Posted by Ken Lynch on Fri, Sep 10, 2010 @ 01:40 PM

Tags: RFID, Access Control, Border Security

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Programs Simplify Passage for Pre-Approved Travelers

The U.S. customs and border protection agency (CBP) secures almost 7,000 miles of the U.S border and other coastal areas and is responsible for screening foreign visitors, returning American citizens, and cargo that enter the U.S. at more than 300 land, air and sea ports.  Its mission of securing trade and travel, enforcing hundreds of immigration and drug regulations and laws, and managing terror threats is a challenging one for sure.

US BorderWith thousands of people crossing the borders each day and being responsible for facilitating about $2 trillion in trade a year, leveraging the latest technology to support their operations is nothing new for the CBP and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  Now imagine the long lines and extended wait times that must be experienced by travelers, business professionals and workers crossing popular entry points into the U.S. 

Thankfully, to help elevate congestion and delay, the CBP and its neighboring counterparts have established programs designed to simplify passage for pre-approved frequent travelers crossing U.S. borders on a daily basis.  The NEXUS program administered at designated points along the United States and Canadian border and the SENTRI program in place along the U.S. – Mexico border, offer expedited processing to pre-screened travelers.  To serve the broadest population of travelers, NEXUS and SENTRI services are available at both designated traffic lanes at the border and at kiosks located in airports and at various marine locations.

How it works:  After a thorough background check, approved applicants are issued a photo ID that includes an RFID tag.  By simply waving this ID at border inspection areas outfitted with RFID readers, the information stored on the card is displayed on a computer and analyzed by CBP inspectors who verify that the card holder is an approved frequent traveler.  If all checks out, the traveler is authorized to proceed.

A similar RFID-enabled application developed by Neology is reportedly being used by the Mexican Border Patrol.  By combining Passive RFID with license plate recognition (LPR) into an electronic vehicle registration solution, the Mexican Army Bank is able to control the import and export of vehicles, immigration, and security along every entry and exit point into and out of Mexico.  The solution includes an RFID-based windshield tags that the company reports can be read on vehicles traveling at 100 mph.

According to the U.S. customs and border protection agency, the inspections enabled by RFID take less than 5 seconds, which is significantly less time than clearance through standard lanes. 

What do you think about RFID being used at the border?  How about RFID for other transportation, tolling or security applications?  We’d like to hear from you.

Subscribe by Email

Most Popular Posts

Browse by Tag

Ask the Experts 

Do you have a question about one of our products that you'd like us to answer on our Forum?

Post Your Question