RFID stands for radio-frequency identification. There have been many applications for its use from inventory management, pet identification and timing athletic events.
Also called transponder timing, chip timing, RFID timing, or tag
timing, it is a method for measuring time and place in
athletic events. A transponder working on a radio-frequency identification (RFID) basis is attached
to the athlete and sends a code that is detected
by radio receivers.
Race Chip timing systems require that athletes wear lightweight chip that identifies them as
they cross electronic mats or antennas. The chip is
typically attached to shoelace, an ankle bracelet,
or on the assigned bib number depending on the
system being used. Chip timing electronically collects and processes results at the finish line.
Race Chip timing eliminates the problems with
manual timing. Mistakes in
the results can be caused by confusing multiple-chute
finishing areas, runners wearing the wrong number,
runners who get out of order in the chutes or "bandits" (runners who have not
registered). Also, because the process of matching times to numbers is
computerized, human error is minimized, and results
can be made available immediately.
As less expensive transponders have been produced, the use
of disposable tags has become more popular. The
technology is the same as a reusable tag, but the race
does not have to collect the tags at the
finish line. Chips are now available that can be attached to the athletes bib number. This has the added feature of increased accuracy in being recorded as the participants torso crosses the finish line as apposed to the lead or trail foot, which sometimes leads to incorrect place results.
Not every RFID chip system is suitable for race timing. A foam backing will prevent moisture and the bodies own electrical system. It is also important to use a system that works on an ultra high frequency (UHF) so that it is free from static interference.
It is important as well to work with a timing company that knows and understands the technology and understands race management and how to use that technology to produce results.
Article research from Marathon Guide, Wikipedia and years of research and 20 years in the timing business. Bob Beattie, owner of Island-Timing is a contributor to the Wikipedia article.
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