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Czech Monks Look to RFID for Guidance
Visitors to Vyssi Brod can rent electronic tour guides that describe the monastery's various sights, thus helping to provide the abbey with income.
Jan 26, 2010—A group of monks living in a 13th-century Czech monastery near the border of Austria are employing Near-Field Communication (NFC) RFID technology to provide visitors with access to recorded information in their own languages. The system's designers say it may be one of the first NFC applications for tours and tour guides.
Tens of thousands of people each year come to the Vyšší Brod Cistercian Abbey, to visit its churches, chapels and grounds. For security reasons, given the monastery's valuable relics, tourists must see the site in groups. If a guide is not available, a staff member must go along to unlock rooms. Often, a group is composed of visitors from around the world; this has presented a problem for those who do not speak Czech, or one of the other languages spoken by tour guides. In addition, during the off-season, language-appropriate guides are not always available.
The Association for the Support of the Cistercian Monastery Vyšší Brod, an organization that supports the monks and their monastery, sought a simple solution to provide visitors with access to information in their own languages.
Klaus Zerbs, who heads the association, knew of a technology center in nearby Hagenberg, Austria, where NFC solutions provider Nexperts is based (see NFC Research Lab Rolls Out Smart Posters). Zerbs contacted the firm to see if it had technology suitable for the monastery's needs. Nexperts began designing a solution, and the association applied for funds from the European Union to help cover some of the project costs, which were roughly €17,000 ($24,000). The monks will be reimbursed for approximately €12,000 ($17,000) through the European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) initiative.
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