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Alien Races Into RFID Runner Tracking

Alien Technology has announced that its tags and readers will by deployed by Sweden's Racetimer, which organizes and times large running and racing events. Specifically, Racetimer will use UHF Gen2 tags from Alien at the Blodomloppet race, Scandinavia's second largest cross-country race which includes more than 40,000 runners.
Oct 16, 2007This article was originally published by RFID Update.

October 16, 2007—RFID products and services provider Alien Technology has announced that its tags and readers will by deployed by Sweden's Racetimer, which organizes and times large running and racing events. Specifically, Racetimer will use UHF Gen2 tags from Alien at the Blodomloppet race, Scandinavia's second largest cross-country race which includes more than 40,000 runners.

Racetimer is touting key benefits of UHF over the historically common LF-based RFID. In particular, UHF can be read accurately at much higher distances, sometimes up to 20 meters. That allows runners to be reliably registered at key points during the race, including the finish line itself, where runners no longer have to wait in line for their tags to be scanned by race organizers. This alone can save several minutes per runner, which, in a race with thousands of runners, is significant.

The UHF tags are also cheaper and disposable, so runners aren't required to return them to organizers at the conclusion of a race. "Collecting the tags after the race completion can be a time-consuming and inefficient distraction for race organizers and runners alike," Stephen Crocker, Alien's director of sales and channels for EMEA/India, was quoted in the announcement. He added that there might be sentimental benefit as well, in that a runner's tag could serve as a memento of the race.

In total, Racetimer calculates that using Alien's RFID versus older LF or even bar code solutions will save it 20 percent in costs and up to 5 man hours per race.

Alien's work with Racetimer is indicative of a few trends at the company. First is its continuing diversification away from a strict focus on the compliance and supply chain markets. (See Alien Looks to Channel, Non-Mandate RFID Adoption for more.) Second is the company's strategy of cultivating relationships with value-added resellers and solutions providers that develop custom applications for niche markets. And third is its work with local companies in foreign markets, which widens the company's channel and its global footprint. The Racetimer announcement is the fourth in which a non-US company deployed a solution in its local market based on Alien's technology (the others: work-in-process in Portugal and Italy, and vehicle tracking in Turkey).
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