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For Fleye, Capturing Action Videos Is No Obstacle

The company is using RFID to manage the recording process during the Spartan Races series of extreme foot races, and to allow participates to view and share their moves.
By Claire Swedberg
May 17, 2013

Approximately 18 months ago, snowboarder Cam Miner founded Fleye, a company that combines video and radio frequency identification technologies to allow active-sports enthusiasts like him to capture, view and share their moves online. While there are several businesses offering RFID solutions linking an individual equipped with a tag to still photo images at events and ski resorts, Miner envisioned a system that would go one step further, enabling users to view and share videos of themselves launching off a jump at a terrain park, climbing over an obstacle at a race or riding a roller coaster at an amusement park. The solution could also be used to show participation at a concert or sporting event.

Fleye has piloted a fixed version of the solution at ski resorts in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Colorado, as well as at New Hampshire's Rye Airfield indoor skate park, and is now providing a mobile version of the system to a total of 40 Spartan Race extreme foot races held throughout the United States. To date, the system has been used at 12 such events, which range in length from three to 12 or more miles, and are strewn with multiple obstacles.

For the Spartan Race series, Fleye provides wristbands featuring an active RFID tag that can be read despite the presence of mud and an environment crowded with participants.

Miner's professional background is in developing advanced camera systems for surveillance. With the advent of Fleye, he has ventured into a recreational use of the same technology. In this case, however, he wanted to link each video to the appropriate individual, and enable that person to share the video with others via social networking. To make that happen, he turned to RFID technology.

Versions of the solution were tested at two ski resorts during the 2011-2012 winter season, and the technology has more recently been trialed at a New Hampshire skate park. The system consists of a dozen or so cameras installed at high-action locations throughout the resorts or park. The high-definition cameras come with motion sensors to identify when to begin shooting, and then send video data back to a server, via a Wi-Fi or Ethernet connection, where Fleye software determines how to distribute that video. Fleye tried several RFID systems to find the right match for each deployment. At the ski resorts, the firm installed custom RF Digital ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) active readers at a choke point at which users congregate prior to entering the area being recorded. After finding that the read range with active UHF tags was too great, Fleye trialed EPC Gen 2 passive UHF tags from Zebra Technologies and a Nano UHF reader module from TagSense. At the skate park, where read range needs to be short, Fleye provides users with a wristband containing a 125 kHz low-frequency (LF) RFID inlay, which is read using a customized LF reader. In each case, upon entering the park and receiving their wristbands, users provided their own e-mail address at which they wanted to view the video. That data was then input and synchronized with the wristband tag's unique ID number, stored in Fleye's software.

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