An innovative and inspiring use of RFID


I came across an interesting article by Claire Swedberg today, first printed in RFID Journal. I am always fascinated by the uses people find for RFID Journal and this one hit the right spot.

During last November’s New York City Marathon, a runner passed an RFID interrogator on the road near the halfway mark that captured the ID number on her shoe’s RFID tag. Within seconds, a video of her young children appeared in front of her on a 20-foot LED screen, and she could hear them encouraging her on.

This scenario repeated itself 7,000 times for as many runners, across three locations along the racecourse. The Support Your Marathoner service was provided free by ASICS, a manufacturer of running shoes, apparel and accessories, using media, as well as software, to deliver that media, from California advertising firm Vitro. ASICS intends to sponsor a similar service for this year’s marathon, utilizing the same RFID infrastructure to deliver content to the athletes, but with additional features.

So how did this work? The system took advantage of the RFID-based timing technology used by New York Road Runners, the organization that manages the New York City Marathon. ChronoTrack has supplied the timing system for the annual event since 2009.

The solution consists of 46 Impinj Revolution readers installed along the course, with Impinj antennas running across the track itself, and each runner wearing a ChronoTrack D-Tag containing a ChronoTrack Viper ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) Gen 2 RFID tag. ChronoTrack installed three additional Impinj readers and antenna strips across the track to read runners’ tags to support ASICS service, and fed that data to a cloud-based server managed by Vitro.

Using Facebook and the official Marathon website, supporters of a runner were encouraged to enter a seven-second video using the web-cam on their PC or laptop with a special message for a friend or family member running in the race. Vitro software linked the video or pictures to the ID number, instructing the streaming of that video, or the display of the photograph, on a 20-foot screen positioned in front of the runners.

What an innovative and inspiring use of RFID!!

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Simon Holloway is Practice Leader (Process Management & RFID) at Bloor Research. Simon’s IT background spans some 20 years as an IT consultant specialising in IS/IT strategy planning, information management, corporate data and process modelling, business process reengineering, software selection and project management. He has worked in IT organisations that include Solidsoft, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, Forté Software and Redfern Consulting where he has built up a reputation for his ability to provide translation between the business and IT worlds. He has also worked for a variety of industry and service based organisations including: Cadbury Schweppes, PITO, British Airways, Glaxo and Scottish Widows. Simon joined Bloor in 2007 and now holds the Business Process brief.