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Arcade Game Boosts Play With RFID

Smart Industries has released a UHF RFID-enabled version of its Ticket Time skill crane game, known as Ticket Smarts, that automatically links a player with the rolls of tickets he or she earns so that the winnings can be redeemed.
By Claire Swedberg

Each roll has an adhesive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tag attached to it. The company uses a variety of UHF RFID tags from multiple vendors, Dupree says, though he declines to name the specific tag or reader providers. The reader built into the game (also from an unnamed provider) interrogates each tag as it comes within range at the playfield's opening. The reader captures and stores the ID, which is linked to the ticket roll's value in the machine. That ticket value is then allocated to the player's card and is also stored in Smart Industries location-based management software.

Once finished playing the game, the player moves to the arcade counter and presents his or her card, which can be swiped in order to access data in the Smart Industries software, thereby indicating how many ticket rolls that individual was able to collect. The player can then request a prize based on the number of tickets earned. In the meantime, machine operators can remove the ticket rolls from the bin and return them to the game for the next player to win. The Ticket Time system saves labor costs for the location owners, Dupree explains. "They do not have to expend labor counting or handling tickets," he says—returning them to the game from the redemption counter, for instance.

The game's RFID technology is aimed at boosting players' convenience, since they do not have to actually collect the ticket rolls, which encourages them to keep playing. Ticket Time is currently one of FEC's most played games, Dupree reports, and the use of RFID is raising the company's revenue generation even more. The firm started developing the games with RFID about 18 months ago, he says.

The Ticket Smarts system's use of UHF RFID—as opposed to another type of RFID, such as high-frequency (HF)—ensures that tag IDs are always read, while shielding in the game machine prevents stray reads from rolls outside the hopper. Smart Industries conducted tests during the summer in Orlando and Panama City, Fla., as well as in Tennessee. All three sites are now still using the RFID-enabled games. According to Dupree, at least one of those customers reports that the Ticket Smarts machine earns more revenue than machines that cost three times as much.

Smart Industries commercially released Ticket Smarts in November, and is now shipping the game to customers.

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