November 16, 2011

In search of a UHF Multisport tag that works

From the day we produced our first ULTRA we have been acutely aware of the requirement for a UHF multisport tag. This is because events like triathlon that must use a transponder attached to the ankle because a shoe cannot be worn for all disciplines and often a wetsuit is worn right up to the transition between swim and cycle. The problem with passive UHF tags is that water is a major barrier to good read performance. This occurs either due to the tag’s close proximity to the skin or having a wetsuit dripping in salt water wrapped around the transponder. Most attempts at a solution in the past have seen chunky plastic clips used to hold the tag off the skin but this is cumbersome and not effective for wetsuit swims.

RFID Race Timing Systems in conjunction with our agents in USA and Europe have been testing a new special Gen 2 UHF tag with amazing results in triathlon. The tag has been tested and modified by RFID Race Timing Systems to maximize read performance when worn on the ankle. These tags are reliably read using only two antenna ports connected to two side flank antennas either side of a timing point that can be up to 6m wide. The new tag will be officially unveiled in January 2012 at the RFID Race Timing System conference in Florida. Attendees at the European Conference held at Stansted UK were also given a sneak preview of the new multisport tag we call UltraTag.

Tech Talk, Uncategorized
November 16, 2011

Europe Conference a Success. Next Stop, the US

On the heels of the successful Users Conference for our European timers in September, we are pleased to announce that the 2012 RFID Race Timing Conference for our partners in the Americas will take place in beautiful Deerfield Beach, Florida on January 26 – 28, 2012. We are also thrilled to extend complimentary registration to those who respond by December 26, 2011. The conference will include a meet and greet cocktail party on January 26 in the evening and informative seminar sessions – including the launch of our new multisport UHF tag as well as other product demonstrations — on Friday, January 27 and 28.

For more information and to register, please click here

RFID News, Uncategorized
November 16, 2011

Coca-Cola Road Race (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)

RFID Race Timing helped make history when it had the honor of being selected as the first RFID system used to time all participants in an Ethiopian event. On September 19, the first race of the 2011 Coca-Cola Road Race Series – a 7K run – took place in Addis Ababa with more than 3,000 participants. The ULTRA system was used by the Great Ethopian Run who was proud to have results posted for all runners online within two hours of the event’s completion.

More information on the event may be found here.

Recent Events, Uncategorized
November 16, 2011

Triathlon Audencia La Baule (La Baule, France)

On September 17 and 18, over 60,000 spectators cheered on the 5,600 competitors lining up in various races comprising the 24th Triathlon Audencia La Baule. The event, which included nine races geared for any age and athletic level took place in picturesque La Baule, France, northwest of Nantes. The triathlon was timed by RFID Race Timing distributor, Ipitos, with the HDD System.

For more information, visit the event website.

Recent Events, Uncategorized
November 16, 2011

Challenge Henley (Henley-On-Thames, UK)

Some 1,000 participants gathered on a misty September 19 morning for the inaugural Challenge Henley ironman triathlon. Taking place on the River Thames, through the scenic Chiltern Hills, and nearby villages, the event included a 3.8K (2.4 mile) swim, 180K (111.8 mile) bike race, and 42.2K (26.2 mile) run. Challenge Henley-on-Thames is part of the Challenge Family global series of long distance triathlons featuring 13 races over three continents. The race was timed by our UK / Ireland distributor, StuWeb Timing Solutions, using the HDD System.

More on the triathlon can be found here.

BBC coverage of the event is here.

Recent Events, Uncategorized
November 16, 2011

Dublin Marathon (Ireland)

Considered to be the ‘blue ribbon’ marathon event in Ireland, the Dublin Marathon took place October 31, with record numbers as 14 000 runners, joggers, and fun-seekers poured onto the streets of Ireland’s capital. The event has grown in popularity over the years and is internationally known as the Friendly Marathon due to the amicable atmosphere shared by the thousands of spectators. Timing Data Service effectively managed the increased number of competitors delivering accurate and timely results thanks to the reliable ULTRA system.

For more information visit the race website.

Recent Events, Uncategorized
November 16, 2011

Fort 4 Fitness (Fort Wayne, Indiana)

An estimated 25,000 runners and spectators came out for the fourth annual Fort4Fitness event which took place on September 24 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. A total of 8,600 participants registered for the Half Marathon, 10K, and 4 Mile Run/Walk making it the largest Fort4Fitness to date. End Result LLC used the ULTRA System combined with disposable tags to time the race.

More information on the race is here.

Local news coverage of the events is here.

Recent Events, Uncategorized
May 25, 2011

Tech Talk – The Great Spacer Debate

There is sometimes confusion over the performance of RFID tags placed on wet objects. This is not a problem for low frequency passive tags used by our HDD System, but for the newer UHF passive tags this can present challenges. Unless race timers use Battery Assisted Passive (BAP) tags, they will need to make allowances for proximity of a passive UHF tag directly next to the liquid-filled, moist human body.

There is no ‘black magic’ here. Even when high performing, industry leading Monza 4 or Higgs 3 ICs are used with the very best dipole designs, passive UHF tags suffer performance problems when directly placed on the human skin. Simply put, it is just physics and the result of detuning and signal loss due to water.

The solution is to space the tag away from the skin with the cheapest electrically inert substance: closed cell foam. Our testing has shown that the spacer needs to be only 2-3 mm thick to guarantee excellent read rates, even when the runner’s race bib is stretched tight against the body – and the singlet dripping wet with sweat.

Some of our competitors claim they don’t need a spacer, yet they have to employ two tags per bib. Even a 1 mm thin PET spacer will help things, but we believe that to get near 100% read rates, some type of thin foam spacer is required to guarantee performance in all racing conditions. Using two tags is also a good insurance policy given that each tag costs less than $0.15 each*. Yes, that’s 15 US pennies, not the exorbitant $1.00 per tag that our competitors are charging!

* Approximate cost of the passive tags that we recommend: Alien Squiggle and UPM Raflatac Dogbone. Adding a spacer adds about $0.04 per tag.

Tech Talk, Uncategorized
March 3, 2011

Tech Talk – Remote Timing

Many large events require real-time scoring from sometimes distant timing points along the course. These times are often shown on a live scoreboard both on the web and at the finish line. While it may sound high-tech to some, it is really not too complex to put timing systems onto an inexpensive and reliable network using the Internet.

The most common way to accomplish this is to use a built-in GPRS modem that utilizes the GSM mobile phone network to send data over the Internet to a remote server which receives this data. An external 3G modem can also be used.  Some savvy timers can even use a 3G Modem Router to use “The Cloud” to send data over the Internet, and many places in Europe have free Wifi connectivity within the area of a timing point. Data can be sent over the Internet to a server that accepts, deciphers, and stores them in a database. This server can then be accessed by any computer via the Internet to pull down this timing data to scoring software at the race finish line. The whole process takes only one or two seconds, so the results effectively appear in real-time.

Some other timing operators have set up a virtual private network (VPN) where the remote modem is connected directly to the finish line as if it were on the same local area network. The setup of a VPN can be complicated, but essentially eliminates the need for a central or ‘repeater’ server saving the data.
We, at RFID Race Timing Systems, offer all of the above solutions to our customers. The Ultra System even has an optional built-in GPRS as well as an HTTP post request, using an external modem.

Tech Talk, Uncategorized
July 22, 2010

Tech Talk – Not all tags are equal

Of the passive transponders on the market there are advantages and disadvantages between types for sports timing. We are often asked to provide a solution that can time everything from running to kayaking and even windsurfing. Each sport has its own requirements in terms of athlete speed, density and where you can put the actual transponder. Some timers wish they could surgically implant a tag in the athlete negating the old complaint, “I left my chip back home”.

Basically there are three frequencies that the bulk of RFID transponders work in, these being low frequency (120 to 140 KHz), high frequency (13.56 MHz) and ultra high frequency (860 to 950 MHz).

The low and high frequency transponders (or tags, as known in the RFID industry) work well in close proximity to water or the human body. They work in the electromagnetic energy region and these waves can pass through water but not metal. This makes these tags ideal for events where the athlete has to wear a tag on the ankle (ie. Triathlon).

On the other hand, UHF uses electrical coupling and these waves can be blocked or detuned by both liquids and metal. A huge investment has been made on UHF tag design to overcome these problems with the best solutions using a small battery to improve backscatter signal, or mechanical means like using a spacer to separate the tag from the offending material. So why do we want to use UHF tags? There are two primary reasons being low cost and huge read rates.

Firstly the UHF tag has the lower cost due to its light weight and ease of manufacture in large quantities. The UHF tags available today pretty much follow the Generation 2 Class 1 EPC protocol which is an industry wide platform adopted by almost all reader and tag manufacturers. Despite some differences in frequency regulations between countries, UHF tags can be read in Europe (866Mhz) as well as in the USA (902-928MHz). This uniformity across the industry has resulted in small passive UHF tags being available for less than 15c each. However high performance tags like the PowerT that RFID Race Timing Systems recommends will cost more due to the added battery and size, but still be lower in cost than the lower frequency transponders.

The second reason UHF is so attractive is the ability to transfer large amounts of information between tag and reader in a given time. This means advanced anti-collision algorithms can be employed to allow one reader to interrogate hundreds of tags in a second using just one antenna.

So, do we think UHF tags will dominate sports timing in the next 5 years? The answer is an emphatic yes with a footnote. We do not see UHF being an alternative in the near future for timing triathlon. Even a battery assisted passive tag like the PowerT has trouble being read on the ankle underneath a wetsuit! We think that timers will continue to use low frequency or active tags for triathlon for a long time to come and that is why our HDD and Dual Antenna Systems continue to sell strongly.

But we will make a bold statement and declare that 95% of the worlds running events will be using some form of UHF disposable tag in 2 years time

Tech Talk, Uncategorized