Dutch researchers at Radboud University recently teamed with Progress Software to keep an eye on the health of participants in the world’s largest walking event. With a creative use of RFID technology, the researchers were able to keep tabs on walkers’ temperatures from within.
Volunteers in the study swallowed a “pill” prior to their marching. The pill consisted of an RFID tag and a thermometer. Using complex event processing technology provided by Progress Software, the researchers were able to monitor the walkers’ temperatures. A signal was also sent every ten seconds to a receiving device in each volunteer’s backpacks.
If a volunteer’s temperature rose too high, an onsite medical team was alerted. It was also possible to alert other walkers in the vicinity of the endangered person to hydrate themselves and reduce their pace if necessary.
The study took place during the International Four Day Marches Nijmegen, or Vierdaagse, an event that has been held around the Dutch town of Nijmegen since 1916. Originally begun as a military event to promote health and fitness, it now draws mostly civilian crowds of over 40,000 each July. Participants choose to march distances of between 30 and 50 kilometers each day for the four days of the event. Due to the weather and the intensity of the event, overheating and dehydration can be a serious issue. The Radboud University study addressed the problem.