On Tour With RFID

Posted by Anna Zauner on Mon, Aug 13, 2012 @ 08:36 AM

Tags: RFID, RFID Wristbands, Social Media

Outdoor Concert VenueThe emergence of RFID on the concert scene should really come as no surprise.  As music festivals of all kinds are gaining popularity, organizers want their audiences to have one less thing to think about when it comes to getting in the door. RFID enabled wristbands do just that. In addition, they offer all kinds of added benefits - such as combatting ticket counterfeiting, supporting cashless payment, and even integrating with the fans' preferred social networks.

RFID was initially used as a ticketing solution for large outdoor music festivals, starting in 2004 with its adoption at SXSW in Austin, TX. It emerged in the form of wristbands and cut down significantly on gate crashing and lost tickets. It also introduced a cash-free payment system, which is undeniably popular since it can be risky to carry around large amounts of money.  Though mainstream use of RFID spans nearly a decade, it wasn’t until its much publicized implementation at popular music festivals like Coachella, Lollapalooza, and Bonnaroo did people really begin to take notice.

According to a recent article published on Hypebot.com, RFID adoption at concerts has been steadily increasing; this year was no exception.  The main focus of attention, though, was focused on concert goers ability to “Check-In” via their Facebook account.  Companies such as Intellitix are contributing to the success of RFID and social media at the concert scene.  At both Bonnaroo and Coachella this year, Intellitix powered Facebook check-ins via their “Live Click Stations” where fans could upload a picture of themselves to Facebook at their favorite band’s concert, surely becoming the envy of their friends!

It doesn't stop there. Fans are also able to go beyond Facebook status updates and include various tie-ins with sponsors and off-site partners.  At Roger Waters-The Wall tour this year, more than 70,000 fans had their RFID enabled wristband linked to their Facebook account. This process allowed them to post messages from Amnesty International during the concert aimed at spreading awareness about Amnesty’s 50-year battle for human rights.

The statistics in this market are getting pretty interesting.  At Coachella, more than 30,000 people registered to use the Live Click stations to update their status on Facebook.  Bonnaroo took it to a whole new level with over 74,000 registrations for check-ins at the “largest Live Click Stations ever made.”

RFID offers proven benefits when it comes to streamlining concert admittance and combating ticket counterfeiting, but with the continued popularity of social media platforms, it is probably safe to say it hasn’t reached its peak!

RFID Lets Theme Parks Be Fun for All

Posted by Ken Lynch on Wed, Nov 10, 2010 @ 10:36 AM

Tags: RFID, RFID Wristbands, Theme Parks, Child Safety

Takes Special Care of Special Needs Guests and Children

Morgan's WonderlandThe words “25-acre theme park” could make any parent of small children quake in their boots. For the parents or caretakers of people with special needs, a theme park of that size may be out of the question,  more trouble than it’s worth or just plain not fun.

Morgan’s Wonderland in San Antonio, Texas is providing safe entertainment for people with special needs and they’re doing it with the help of RFID. Guests can register with an online system that obtains information from visitors before they get to the theme park. Important information on each guest such as health needs, handicap accessibility requirements, allergies, medications and the names of the people accompanying them is forwarded to an RFID system. The guests can print a bar-coded ticket containing their specific information that they bring with them to the park.

When visitors arrive at the park, their printed bar-code tickets are scanned. Workers then provide each member of the group with an RFID-enabled wristband. The wristband contains an active RF Code 433 MHz RFID tag for location purposes, and a high-frequency (HF) 13.56 MHz tag provided by ViVOtech. The HF tag is designed to be read at close proximities at the exit and registration area. RFIDTec's Location Station software links the wristband ID numbers to the information provided about each guest at registration.

Consultant Denim Group used a Threat Modeling technique to identify potential security weaknesses during the planning stage. Based on that reconnaissance, RFID readers as well as RFID kiosks were strategically placed throughout the park to help visitors keep track of members of their party. Handheld RFID readers at the gate issue an alert if someone tries to leave without their party. If a group leader loses someone, he can visit an RFID kiosk where the passive HF tag on his wristband is read. The software would pull up the ID numbers for the members in his party and display the location of each person via a map of the park on the kiosk monitor.

I can think of a dozen other places where this type of application could be useful. I try not to be an alarmist when it comes to my kids’ safety, but automated systems like this can give parents one less thing to worry about – especially in the craze of large theme parks where losing site of an excited child can happen easily.

Where do you think RFID system like this could provide the most benefit and would it allow you to kick back and have a little more fun? The mall? The county fair? How about arcades or indoor entertainment centers?

[Photo credit: Morgan's Wonderland]

RFID for Wander Prevention

Posted by Ken Lynch on Fri, Nov 05, 2010 @ 11:39 AM

Tags: RFID, RFID Wristbands, Wander Prevention, Active RFID

Providing Added Peace of Mind for Elder Care

Vuance CompanionA question posted to our Billions of Identities blog entry asked if there were solutions to track an elderly person living alone to determine if they are OK.  The answer is yes, and here is some information on that topic that may be useful.

For those of us who have had a family member or loved one suffer from Alzheimer's or some other type of dementia the experience can be painful for everyone involved.  In addition to assistance form the most patient of healthcare professionals, solutions like the Companion anti-wandering system from RFID solutions provider SuperCom (previously Vuance) can provide a new level of peace of mind.

The Companion system includes a battery powered 433 MHz active RFID tag and motion detector embedded in a plastic wristband combined with a low-profile door alarm that contains an RFID reader and infrared emitter that creates an IR field across the doorway.  The alarm device is powered by a 12 volt adapter and can be attached above a doorway to provide the desired area of coverage – about 4 feet. When a person wearing a Companion wristband moves into the IR field near a doorway an audible alarm is sounded, indicating that someone may be wandering outside of a desired area.

While this system was initially designed for in-home care, SuperCom intends to bring similar products to market for nursing homes and other facilities.  In larger facilities, the intent is to create a network of RFID readers to monitor a greater number of individuals and doorways and even integrate with software to send text alerts or pages to specified staff members.

Conceptually this same type of fully integrated system could extend to the home – providing location information, text or pager alerts and maybe even video feeds to loved ones in remote locations to help care for our elderly family and friends.

RFID Put Behind Bars

Posted by Ken Lynch on Thu, Nov 04, 2010 @ 01:00 PM

Tags: Inmate Tracking, RFID, RFID Wristbands, Active RFID

Helps Keep the Peace and Cut Costs in Prisons

Prison BarsThis week we’ve seen a few examples of the ways in which RFID-enabled wristbands can be used to track people for attendance, management and security purposes. The Washington D.C. Department of Corrections is using similar types of wristbands to track the location of the inmates in its Central Detention Facility (CDF). Its goal was to improve safety and cut down on costs.

Monitoring the inmates’ movements helps keep them out of restricted areas. It also helps staff members to find an inmate more quickly should that particular person require assistance or some sort of immediate medical attention. As a result, mistakes on headcounts decrease and so do the instances of prison lockdowns. Lockdowns force the corrections officers to remain on site past their assigned shifts and cost the prison in paid overtime. Needless to say, unnecessary lockdowns due to counting errors cause them to throw money out the window.

CDF completed the installation of an RFID system from TSI Prism with AeroScout WiFi compatible technology. At the time of their booking, inmates are issued a wristband or ankle bracelet enabled with a 915 MHz active RFID tag. The tag is encoded with a specific ID number for each inmate. Both the wristband and ankle bracelet are tamper resistant and send out an alert should it be removed or attempted to be removed. Readers are placed throughout the facility to track the inmates throughout the prison compound.

RAND Corp., a nonprofit research institution conducted a study on the CDF’s use of RFID. The study, "Tracking Inmates and Locating Staff with Active Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID): Early Lessons Learned in One U.S. Correctional Facility," found that in order to truly receive the benefits of implementing an RFID system in a prison, the facility must first fully and clearly outline its objectives.  Because the systems require customization, comprehensive training of the staff is critical. If possible, a pilot study is recommended in one area of the prison to help ensure proper training and gauge inmates’ reactions, among other information gathering tools to help prepare for the full implementation.

The study concluded that if a facility follows these guidelines, the benefits of an RFID system could be significant. It even speculates as to other possible uses and benefits, such as to keep known enemies away from each other to avoiding fights and creating a safer environment for both inmates and guards. Take it a step further and fewer fights could mean lower medical costs and less paperwork.

It’s logical that the same cost and safety benefits would apply in situations where people are released on parole with monitoring devices designed to confine their movements to home and place of employment as well as for inmates when they leave the facility to go to court and help clean the highways.

Hopefully those who hold the purse strings see the big returns from RFID in correctional facilities.

RFID and the Beverage Market (part 4)

Posted by Ken Lynch on Thu, Aug 26, 2010 @ 12:36 PM

Tags: RFID, RFID Wristbands, Food & Beverage, Hospitality

Combating Underage Drinking and Improving Sales with Patron ID and Point-of-Sale Wristbands

Fake IDThe days of recreating the background of a state driver’s license in your garage, taking a cheesy picture of yourself in front of it, slipping it into generic plastic enclosure and sealing it with your mom’s iron are over.  Now I’m not saying that I ever did that, but I’m sure others tried and were successful in passing off a fake ID to go somewhere or do something they weren’t old enough to do.

Regardless of the method used to produce them, trying to enter a bar or purchase alcohol are probably some of the most common uses of fake IDs.  The debate over the legal drinking age has gone on for years.  Regardless of the position that you take, establishments that serve alcoholic beverages must comply with the law or face stiff penalties.  Making compliance difficult, some young people are willing to take the risk of using a fake ID despite the consequences - including driver’s license suspension, fines and higher car insurance rates.  As a result, simply checking a person’s ID to provide access to a bar or an event where alcohol is being served is sometimes not enough. 

RFID Wristbands for Patron Identification

With over 50 years of experience developing wristband ID systems and nearly a decade deploying RFID systems, California-based Precision Dynamics helps event organizers and venue owners take ID checking to the next level.  For positive age identification and verification, the Precision Dymamics AgeBand® system scans the magnetic stripe or 2-dimensional bar code of an individual’s credentials (typically a driver’s license or other ID card) and prints their name and other pertinent information on a non-transferable RFID-enabled wristband.  If they are 21 years of age or older, the system also prints “Age ID Verified 21” on the wristband.  In addition to confirming the age data on a person’s credentials and providing visible verification for venues that serve alcohol, use of the AgeBand system provides a technology advantage over mean looking bouncers – often scaring away those using fake IDs before they try to enter an event.

In addition to being used to verify patron ages, AgeBands are made of thermal material to support point of sale applications.  When used in conjunction with a specialized kiosk, the system allows patrons to load cash credit onto their RFID wristbands to support instant, automated purchases at concession stands and other retail areas.

If it’s a safe event environment and increased sales that you are after, you may want to check out Precision Dynamics SuperFest case study.  The write-up details how the system helped increase throughput at concession stands, reduce long lines, and allowed the venue to replace expensive stand-alone POS units – resulting in a 15% increase in revenues.

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