RFID Applications in the Sporting World

RFID is a proven technology that’s been around since at least the 1970s. However, it’s been too expensive and too limited to be practical for many commercial applications until recent years. Now that the costs associated with making tags have decreased, RFID tags can solve many of the problems associated with manufacturing and the supply chain.

The tags can be embedded or encased in packaging for weather-proofing and greater durability. Tags also have microchips that can store a unique serial number for every product manufactured around the world.

zebra

With these new capabilities, areas outside of manufacturing are also seeing a rise in RFID tagging and technology. One of these areas is sports and sporting events.

Data analytics and advanced statistics are changing the way people watch and participate in sporting events. While RFID technology is allowing for new applications each year, we at VPM wanted to concentrate on the top three RFID applications in sports.

Ticketing 

Dating back to the 2005, sporting venues have been using inlays embedded in tickets that are scanned using stationary readers at entry gates to grant spectators entrance. In 2006, the FIFA World Cup became the world’s largest user of RFID in sports ticketing and continues to use the technology today. 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 antiquated manual and error prone processes.

Player Tracking

Companies such as PLUS Location Systems and Zebra Technologies are leading the way in player tracking technology in sports. These companies use RFID technology to capture the high-rate motion of athletes, referees, and game balls to deliver real-time data streams, reports, visual graphics, and more to enhance the game experience and provide a detailed record of performance for statistical analysis. RFID tracking technology can also be used in player training scenarios to analyze real-time performance which helps maximize their capabilities and minimize injuries and fatigue.

Concessions 

While RFID implementation across stadiums has been slow, it’s beginning to happen. Teams and stadiums that already using RFID are using it to trigger exclusive, stadium-only promotions and trivia to fans devices. Other applications include alerting fans on restrooms with the shortest wait times or concession stands with the shortest lines. Many teams are progressing to use RFID technology to track fan behaviors, movement, and spending inside stadiums.

RFID technolgy is going to greatly change the way many areas function for years to come. If you’d like to learn more about this technology, I suggest you reach out to the Auburn University RFID Lab. Justin Patton and the group there are doing revolutionary things and can help you decide if RFID is right for your brand.

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