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.

Desktop USB RFID Readers – Simple yet Versatile

Posted by Ken Lynch on Wed, Apr 24, 2013 @ 01:33 PM

Tags: RFID, Healthcare, Embedded RFID, Event Management, Airplane Parts Tracking, USB RFID reader, RFID Kiosk

ThingMagic USB ReaderThe value of small form factor RFID readers is not difficult to understand – it is a combination of simplicity, utility and low cost that makes them a popular choice among application developers. Any industry can benefit from being more efficient, yet many are apprehensive to put resources or systems (RFID being an example) in place to make it happen, because of any number of barriers to entry – “it’ll cost too much,” “it’ll be too invasive,” “it’ll be difficult to integrate with our current operations.

ThingMagic’s USB RFID Reader is one answer to these concerns, particularly for users developing and deploying interactive read/write applications. Its small form factor allows users to deploy without affecting existing infrastructure. The reader’s ability to be controlled and powered by a PC means plugging into a USB port is typically all that’s necessary to integrate with existing hardware systems. And, its low cost makes it an easier investment decision. The variety of industries that the ThingMagic USB RFID Reader has made its way into shows this versatility.

Aerospace

Writing information to an RFID tag is easy enough when it involves something as simple as scanning workers’ ID badges into a system, but this becomes significantly more difficult when the tag you need to scan is attached to an enormous airplane part you can’t necessarily just drag over to any old reader. Companies like Honeywell Aerospace have begun applying high-memory RFID tags to various parts they manufacture so that they can be tracked from birth through their eventual use by airlines, and repair if necessary. To write and read information on these tags, which often reside on difficult to reach parts, Honeywell uses simple and portable USB RFID readers provided by ThingMagic that can be easily plugged into a laptop. Using a USB RFID reader to write and read these high-memory tags allows aerospace companies to easily attach information part descriptions, manufacture dates, part numbers, and serial numbers to the equipment being moved around a plant and even to other countries.

Healthcare

Healthcare environments – hospitals, clinics, etc. – depend on accuracy perhaps more than any other industry, as errors could potentially affect not only just business, but individuals’ health and well-being. A recent deployment by XECAN (watch video), a leading provider of smart RFID systems for healthcare, fixes ThingMagic USB readers to the desktop PCs in hospital exam rooms. Doctors can then scan their badge upon greeting a patient and have immediate access to that patient’s profile in the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system.

The time saved by not having to repeatedly enter login credentials for different software applications allows doctors more time to see patients and focus on care, letting the technology handle logistics. The entire process becomes more efficient and accurate, reducing potential errors and, in turn, lowering costs for patients, healthcare providers and insurers. And it involves little more effort from employees than simply touching their IDs to a desktop USB RFID reader.  Download XECAN Case Study

Sports

These types of readers are just as often applied in fast-paced, often outdoor environments as part of athletic deployments, and can be used to easily replace the guesswork involved in athletic competition with structure and automation for accuracy.

When you consider the logistics of racing sports, for instance, it’s obviously important to have accurate time recording measures in place for properly determining winners and statistics. What’s often neglected, however, (and which we’ve blogged in the past) is the need to monitor for fair play – a lesson Rosie Ruiz taught us all the hard way in 1980 when she became the “fastest” female runner in the history of the Boston Marathon (until investigators discovered she’d skipped most of the race).

To protect the integrity of racing sports, companies like RFID Timing deploy RFID systems to keep track of athlete information and monitor their progress at different checkpoints throughout a race. In these types of deployments, a USB reader could be used to encode and check UHF tags before they’re placed on a racer’s number prior to an event. The readers are also used to scan athletes’ tags in various locations, for instance at the point where a runner would pick up his or her race pack. Automating a process like this ensures an athlete’s details are correct in a timing system’s database.

RFID-Powered Kiosks

Though you’ll typically see these types of readers on a desk plugged into a PC or laptop, use cases have evolved in parallel with the explosion of social media to popularize RFID-powered social media kiosks at event functions. Showing the more casual and entertaining side of RFID, providers like ODIN (watch video) put together interactive kiosks that allow people to more easily engage with others and share enjoyable moments from the events they attend. Users who touch their conference ID badge to an RFID-powered kiosk and choose to attach it to their social media accounts can then easily share updates, check-ins, and photos from the variety of sessions, booths, or events they visit.

A cool use case we’ve blogged in the past was for the Olympics this past summer when candy company Cadbury partnered with the social media tech company dwinQ to set up a large, purple, inflatable booth – the Cadbury House – that was RFID-enabled. Prior to entering the Cadbury House, visitors could tap their event badges to a ThingMagic USB RFID reader and then choose to link the badge to their Facebook account. From that point on, other readers throughout the attraction would automatically pick up visitors’ badges and give them different options for sharing content, such as a photo opportunity with an added backdrop of participants receiving Olympic medals in front of a large crowd. They reported that an impressive 75% of attendees opted to link their Facebook pages, checking in 5824 times and sharing 8958 photos.  Download ODIN Case Study

The value of this type of reader, regardless of whether it’s found on a racetrack or in a hospital exam room, is that it can be easily deployed to provide immediate results. These types of readers are designed to plug simply into existing infrastructure so as to offer a quick solution that doesn’t disrupt ongoing operations already in place. The variety of applications – creative and entertaining like Cadbury to complex like aerospace parts tracking – shows its versatility. Because there are so few strings attached, virtually any industry could see improvements in performance, efficiency, or accuracy with desktop USB RFID readers.

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.

RFID - Stand up and Be Counted!

Posted by Ken Lynch on Fri, Feb 17, 2012 @ 02:14 PM

Tags: RFID, Healthcare, Event Management

CureAs we gear up for HIMSS, we’re reminded of the benefits that RFID has brought to healthcare – tracking expiration dates of prescription medications, preventing surgical equipment loss, making processes more efficient, personalizing a patient’s experience – the list goes on and on. Let’s add another to the list - one that merits special attention. It’s the use of RFID to promote cancer awareness.

In Polk City, Florida, a group of breast cancer awareness activists held a Big Pink Ribbon event where thousands of individuals wearing pink ribbon t-shirts assembled for the cause. Each person was counted by team captains with check lists, hand tally counters and of course, RFID! Why did they want such a precise count? What better way to garner attention than to get into the book of Guinness World Records! 

The University of South Florida Polytechnic, UPM RFID and Borda Technology used RFID readers, UHF tags and custom software to accurately identify each individual and provide a 100% accurate, real-time count of the total number of participants. The RFID solution included:

- Lanyards for all participants with UHF RFID tags, which supported the EPC Gen 2 RFID standard 

- An RFID reader at the entrance portal with four downward-pointing antennas to count participants

- Software with a custom asset-tracking solution

The tags were used for precision counting with built-in redundancies. The readers captured participant data and transmitted that information to a custom asset-tracking software program. The RFID system would have immediately alerted the organizers if they had set the new world record for largest human-awareness ribbon. But it wasn’t in the cards this time. Even though the event didn’t make it into the book of Guinness World Records, they had a great turnout fulfilling their first objective - to educate more people about finding the cure for breast cancer.

We like how they showed another way in which RFID can be easily integrated into everyday lives. As you may remember, one of our missions last year was to promote awareness for RFID via our RFID100 campaign. Hopefully greater awareness of RFID and the cure for breast cancer will help each other succeed.


RFID Boosts Fan Loyalty

Posted by Ken Lynch on Thu, Jan 26, 2012 @ 03:51 PM

Tags: RFID, Sports & Entertainment, Event Management, Hospitality

Brand LoyaltyBeing a sports fan, I find myself going from one end of the pendulum to the other as far as being totally enamored with my team, to giving up hope and not wanting to hear their name until the next season. But, I will admit I could never change allegiances, no matter how disillusioned I may feel at certain times. 

Even though season tickets and attending sporting events are probably the last thing people would give up in an economy when tightening belts is a way of life, team franchises must still recognize that times are tough and tickets and concessions aren’t cheap. They need to figure out ways to keep fans coming back, especially if they’re not winning. 

Having exhibited technology savvy in the past, the Tampa Bay Lightning has recognized the business benefits of RFID. They have embedded RFID tags in about 10,000 season ticket holder jerseys. Why? To help drive ticket sales and team loyalty.

Season ticket holders will each receive the new team jersey with an RFID tag embedded into it. As the tags are scanned by one of the 250 readers installed into the Quest terminals throughout the arena, at concession stands, and in the retail stores and kiosks, they are offered discounts on food, beverages and team merchandise. And if you’re watching the game on TV, you can bet you’ll see a lot more Lightning jerseys in the crowd. Since embarking on this latest project, the Lightning franchise has seen a noticible increase in demand for season tickets.

We’ve seen this before. In a previous blog post, we experimented with RFID and social networks to build brand loyalty. The results showed so much promise that we feel this combination will soon take off in business. The Boston Celtics have recently used social media to convert Facebook fans into ticket holders. Mark my words, it won’t be long before the Celts see the promise of RFID with social networking to boost ticket sales.

For insight into how others are using RFID to build brand loyalty, download our case study: Building Brand Loyalty and Reach through RFID and Social Media.

RFID for Event & Hospitality Management

Posted by Ken Lynch on Mon, Jul 26, 2010 @ 10:41 AM

Tags: RFID, Event Management, Hospitality

Creating Interactive and Personalized Customer Experiences

In ancient Greece, a stranger passing outside a house would be invited inside by the family. The host would wash the stranger's feet, offer him or her food and wine, and only after the guest was comfortable would the host ask their name.  While today’s greeting practices have changed, this early relationship between host and guest is an example of the lengths we can go to in order to make one comfortable in an unfamiliar environment and deliver a personalized experience.

Today, a several billion dollar industry exists to provide comfort and personalized experiences to guests as they travel the world. Organizations in this industry provide services to guests and visitors of hotels, casinos, resorts, membership-based clubs, conventions, attractions, and a wide variety of special events.

Much like the reach of the ‘supply chain’ into and across all areas of global commerce, defining the hospitality market and identifying all of the areas that technologies like RFID can impact it can be a challenge.  Many groups provide valuable services to the industry including facility maintenance, operations, management, marketing, and human resources, among others.  Regardless of the segment of the hospitality industry one is in however, superior service and operational excellence are what drive success.  It is no coincidence that these are two areas that are being revolutionized by RFID.  

Over the past several years, RFID has found its way into existing operations within this market, offering a new level of automation.  Today, RFID-enabled solutions are available to automate access control, track assets, and manage staff.  The potential for RFID however, reaches far beyond these applications, enabling solutions where the technology is so integrated and transparent that it disappears into its environment.  Emerging applications where users and consumers can naturally interact with RFID are allowing solution providers to the hospitality industry deliver guests and event attendees with customized, real-time, interactive, and experiences that are tailored to match their personal preferences.

ThingMagic is working with several partners in this space whose innovative solutions are designed to deliver personalized experiences.  Following on the heels of the 2010 British Open, the oldest of the four major championships in professional golf, the examples below highlight how RFID is being used to create a VIP experience for participants at high-profile golf events. 

Stratum Global, a Chicago-based software solutions company lives by the motto “Start Small, Think Big”.  Stratum Global put this approach to work in their delivery of a solution for one of the nation’s premier country clubs located in the hills of beautiful Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Stratum Global Stratum Global

Based on Stratum Global’s TagNet RFID suite, the solution was implemented to provide security at the two main gates to the facility as well as provide notification to Club staff when a Member has arrived on property. RFID tags were applied to each of the Member's vehicles and are read as the vehicle enters.  Security gates are managed as well as Portal Event Viewers being strategically located throughout the property (Valet Parking, Golf Bag drop) to identify Members to staff.

What's next for TagNet at this Club?  The Golf Bag Room, Catering & Event Management and tracking priceless assets around the facility.  Each of these applications are designed to enhance member experience and automate processes in ways that could not be done economically or aesthetically without RFIDS.

NooliTIC is an information and communication technology engineering company based in France.  NooliTIC solutions address many of the historical issues resulting from manual event management processes including long lines, frustrated customers, and gaps in security.  By adding a passive RFID tag to each customer’s ID badge and strategically deploying RFID readers, restricted areas can be easily monitored without interrupting the flow of foot traffic.  Data about event guest & VIP traffic is also gathered by the NooliTIC system, allowing event managers to determine how to improve future events by downsizing less crowded attractions and increasing staff availability for the more popular ones.

Noolitic Noolitic

Please share your experiences with RFID-enabled hospitality solutions.  What would you like these solutions to offer that they currently do not?  What do you think the next innovation in RFID-based hospitality solutions will be?

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