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]

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