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Vendors Target Amusement Parks

Protecting children and enabling cashless payments make RFID an appealing option for the entertainment industry.
Nov 27, 2002Nov. 27, 2002 - Despite the global economic slowdown, the amusement park industry continues to grow rapidly around the world. And RFID vendors are looking to tap the booming market. 1stKiosk of Valencia, Calif. and SafeTzone Technologies Corp. of Laguna Hills, Calif., have unveiled products that aim to keep kids safe and provide convenient cashless payment systems.

1stKIOSK demonstrates has added an RFID component to its k-Builder kiosk software, which lets non-technical people design an interactive kiosk program. The company worked with Precision Dynamics Corp., which make wristbands with RFID tags. The wristbands enable the kiosks to identify individuals and provide information for them.

Using the k-builder development tool, parks can create a cashless payment system. A visitor could ask that $50 be billed to his credit card and the credit stored on the wristband. The customer could put his wallet in a locker and use the wristband to pay for purchases at a souvenir or concession stand.

"The system has log capabilities, so you can track who has been using the kiosk and which areas of the park are most heavily trafficked, which is very important for ROI calculations," says Mitch Krayton, head of sales and marketing at 1stKiosk. "It also has extensive scheduling capabilities, so you can schedule ads to appear at certain times and track who used the kiosk at the time the ad was showing."

Wristbands for children can store a parent's contact information, as well as medical information, such as allergies. It can also be used for access control and to ensure that children who don't meet age or height requirements are not able to sneak on certain rides. The park can also issue bands that can be reused and turn them into a loyalty device by tracking points earned toward redemptions or free rides.

The software runs on the Unix-based Macintosh OS X operating system. It costs $495 per kiosk, with discounts for orders of more than 100. The system is designed to work with SmartBands from PDC, which contain a 13.56 MHz Tag-it RFID transponder from Texas Instruments. The readers, wristbands and hardware are all sold separately.

The system supports 15 languages and can be set up to have multiple screens. Krayton says it can also be used for point-of-sale and point-of-purchase displays. The system has its own database that can be linked to existing databases, so it could be set up to let customers check "virtual inventory."

SafeTzone's Child Locating System uses battery-powered and non-battery powered RFID tags to locate children or any member of a group throughout a park. Each person wears a watch-like RF device the company calls a SafeTzone Locator. It uses a passive tag to identify an individual and store payment information. It also has an active tag to broadcast the location of individuals to readers in zones set up around the park.

When a parent approaches a touch screen kiosks and scan his or her Locator, the passive RF tag automatically identifies the parent and calls up information on the whereabouts of his or her group members. The latest version of the product also enables people to use the wristband for cashless payments. And they can register for their favorite rides.

A new data-management module also enables parks to record and study the buying habits and activities of visitors, so the parks can offer customer loyalty programs, or incentives for underutilized games or attractions.

"The parks want to know where do the 8 to 10 year old boys go first, what rides do they like the best," says Regan Kelly, a co-founder of SafeTZone. "That kind of information is extremely valuable to the parks. They also want cashless payments and line management and they don't want to go to three or four vendors."

The SafeTzone locating systems is being used at a number of parks, including Wet 'n Wild parks in Orlando, Florida and Las Vegas, Nevada, and Wild Rivers in Irvine, Calif.

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