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.

NOX Tracks Visitors at India's Largest National Executive Meeting

Posted by Ken Lynch on Tue, Mar 05, 2013 @ 03:39 PM

Tags: RFID, Event Management, Attendance Management

Contributed by our friends at Simply RFiD:
BJPKaryakarini 060Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) is India's second largest political party in terms of representation in India's parliament. It is also the main national opposition party and currently governs nine states in India. In May 23-25, 2012, the BJP held its National Executive meeting in Mumbai. During the three-day meeting, the party gathers and frames their strategy towards the country's economic and political issues.

Challenge: Hundreds of people attend the conference including top political leaders, ministers, delegates, and reporters. In order to attend the conference, every individual must be registered and only those authorized can enter press rooms. Before using RFID, security guards at the different press rooms checked each person's ID badge and verified if they were allowed to enter the room. Not only was this a time consuming process for security officials and reporters, but inefficient.

Solution: Gyaantech, SimplyRFiD's exclusive partner and solution provider in India, helped the BJP organize the 2012 National Executive Meeting by installing the Nox Asset Tracking and Surveillance system. Nox-2 RFID paper tags were attached to each visitor's badge. Each tag included visitor's name, description, and RFID number. ThingMagic RFID readers and antennas were installed at doorways. Every time a visitor walked into a press room, the RFID reader read the tag and instantly updated the database. Security officials immediately knew how many people were in each room and if those attending the press conferences were authorized visitors. To ensure that no media equipment left the facility, items were tagged with RFID and Axis cameras were installed at the main entrance to record video if RFID tagged items were taken out.

SimplyRFiD's Nox Asset tracking System helped the BJP keep count of the number of people attending the conference and verify that only authorized visitors attended this important political meeting.

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.

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.

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