Ten years ago, who would have imagined contactless and RFID technology having a big impact on ski resorts. The two latest developments–one tracking skis, the other people–show just how innovative the technology can be.
In the first announcment, EM Microelectronic, a Marin, Switzerland company, has developed a transponder chip that helps identify rented skis or snowboards at ski resorts. In the second instance, Steamboat Ski Area in Colorado has launched the Steamboat MountainWatch guest and amenity locating system, using an RFID-based guest location product.
Here’s a look at both:
Robust passive ski transponders make handling of ski rental easy and help to deter theft
MARIN, Switzerland – EM Microelectronic, an electronic systems company of the Swatch Group and the world’s largest supplier of RFID ICs, has developed in cooperation with Skidata and EC-Passage a transponder chip, the EM4026, which greatly facilitates the handling and identification of rented skis or snowboards at ski resorts.
The EM4026 chip can be read with a contactless reader operating at 125kHz, a frequency range allowing for best reading performance in wet conditions or in close proximity to metallic parts. The battery-less transponder, which contains the chip connected only to a small antenna, is integrated into the ski at manufacturing time and is therefore invisible and tamper-protected. An on-chip voltage limiter prevents the chip from intentional or accidental destruction. It is powered by the reader field and can be operated at temperatures down to -40°C (or -40°F). It features anticollision, meaning that several tags can be read simultaneously in the area of the field detection. Each individual chip features a unique factory programmed 64 bit identification number. The Tag Talk First protocol enables a cost effective chip implementation and avoids interferences with existing contactless access control systems near ski lifts.
In ski rental shops, tagged items can be identified and attributed to customers very easily, making the process of delivery and return of rented equipment more accurate and speedier. Furthermore, with readers in lift boarding areas, more than 100 tags in the field can be counted and identified simultaneously. Ski resorts are thus able to automatically locate stolen or lost equipment.
EM Microelectronic and RFID technology have already been present on ski slopes for over ten years in access control with Skidata. Today most ski resorts in the European Alps are using RFID chips and systems for contactless access control to the lift boarding areas. With its partners, EM Microelectronic is also a world leader in supplying RFID chips for ski applications.
About EM Microelectronic
EM Microelectronic is a semiconductor manufacturer designing and producing ultra low power, low voltage, digital, analog and mixed-signal integrated circuits (ICs) for battery-operated and field-powered devices in consumer, automotive and industrial applications. RFID chips feature read/write, anti-collision, 125kHz, 13.56MHz, UHF and 2.45GHz operation for applications in security and access control, animal ID, logistics and immobilization in automotive. EM Microelectronic is one of the electronic systems companies within the Swatch Group. Additional company and product information is available at www.emmicroelectronic.com.
RFID Technology from Texas Instruments and RF Code Brings Service and Safety to Guests at Steamboat Ski Resort
DALLAS and MESA, Ariz. – From the top of the mountain to Gondola Square, guests at the Steamboat Ski Area in Colorado are enjoying a new suite of services this season with the launch of the Steamboat MountainWatch guest and amenity locating system. Steamboat is the first ski area to offer a radio frequency identification (RFID) guest location product using SafeTzone’s Real-Time Guest and Amenity Locating System. The system combines passive and active radio RFID tags from Texas Instruments (NYSE: TXN – News) and RF Code, respectively, and allows guests to better locate all members of their group on the mountain; to discover amenities and recommended routes; to receive information and notification on lift status, weather and special offers; and to communicate with others in their group through kiosk messaging, all with a simple swipe of the wristband locator.
“The Steamboat MountainWatch locator bracelets are an important part of creating a family friendly environment that offers our guests access to a range of information services and peace of mind to enjoy a day on the slopes with confidence,” said Andy Wirth, vice president of sales and marketing at Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation.
Steamboat, one of the largest resorts in the Rocky Mountain region, is comprised of world-class terrain on six mountain peaks: Mount Werner, Sunshine Peak, Storm Peak, Thunderhead Peak, Pioneer Ridge® and Christie Peak. Nearly 3,000 acres (1176 hectares) of skiable terrain offer a diversity of trails for all ability levels.
With the Steamboat MountainWatch location package, which costs as low as $25 for a family of four for a week’s visit, each guest receives a Steamboat MountainWatch wristband, which combines a Texas Instruments 23mm passive, low frequency transponder and an RF Code Mantis(TM) series active RFID tag. The Steamboat MountainWatch product is offered free of charge to everyone under 16 years old who is enrolled in the Kids’ Vacation Center, Steamboat Ski & Snowboard School and KVC Child Care.
The Steamboat MountainWatch wristband communicates information, including a person’s location, via radio signals to a series of RFID readers and makes the information accessible through the half dozen Steamboat MountainWatch touch screen kiosks situated throughout the resort. RF Code’s TAVIS(TM) data management software collects and consolidates data from the active RFID tags, while SafeTzone’s patented Real-Time Location Module draws associations among the passive and active data to identify and locate each member of a group.
While the active tag communicates a person’s location, the passive RF tag automatically identifies visitors as they approach the touch screen kiosks and scan their wristbands, linking them to onscreen icons marking the individual location of any member of their family or group within the resort and resort base. The instant, real-time location of group members and amenities enables new levels of visibility and safety for groups and families. The system’s coverage includes Gondola Square and the entire base of the mountain up to the Christie II & III lifts. At the top of the mountain, coverage includes all restaurants inside and outside, and the bottom and top of each lift.
The Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation is the most recent company to incorporate the SafeTzone Location Services package into an entertainment park. Other deployments of the SafeTzone solution include Paramount’s Great America (Santa Clara, CA), Wild Rivers Water Park (Irvine, CA), Dollywood’s Splash Country (Pigeon Forge, TN), Wet ‘n Wild (Las Vegas, NV) and the Wannado City entertainment complex (Ft. Lauderdale, FL).
About Texas Instruments
Texas Instruments is the world’s largest integrated manufacturer of radio frequency identification (RFID) transponders and reader systems. Capitalizing on its competencies in high-volume semiconductor manufacturing and microelectronics packaging, TI is a visionary leader and at the forefront of establishing new markets and international standards for RFID applications. For more information, contact TI-RFid Systems at 1-888-937-6536 (North America) or +1 972-575-4364 (International), or visit the Web site at www.ti-rfid.com.
About RF Code
RF Code, Inc. is a premier developer of Auto-ID data management software and manufacturer of active RFID technologies. Its award winning TAVIS(TM) software platform is a leading Auto-ID data management framework for data collection and distribution. Since 1997, the company has developed its high- performance, low cost Mantis(TM) active RFID systems for long-range wireless data communications that accurately manage and track physical assets, information and personnel. RF Code offers a complete Unified Monitoring System (UMS) comprised of RF tags, readers, antennas and data management software. For more information, please visit http://www.rfcode.com or call 877-969-2828.
About SafeTzone Technologies
SafeTzone Technologies Corporation is the leading provider of interactive guest location services systems in family destinations. These systems include real-time locating of individuals, amenity location, facility navigation, cashless spending, attraction reservation and park information. SafeTzone is headquartered in Laguna Hills, Calif. The SafeTzone System is also available at theme park and shopping mall locations in Tennessee, Nevada, Florida, and California. Questions about SafeTzone may be directed to its Director of Corporate Sales at 1-949-855-8987 or to its website at www.safetzone.com.