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World's Largest Cruise Ship Launches RFID-based Passenger-Tracking System
Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas is renting out iPhones and wristbands with Wi-Fi RFID tags to help families and groups locate their members.
Feb 22, 2010—When Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas set sail from Helsinki on its maiden voyage in December 2009, the cruise ship offered its passengers more than two 40-foot-long surfing pools, a zip line, a 30-foot-tall rock-climbing wall and a host of other amenities. The 1,200-foot-long vessel—the world's largest cruise ship—also provided its customers with an RFID-based application that offers families and other groups a way to track their members.
The application employs Ekahau's real-time locating system (RTLS), which includes Wi-Fi-based RFID tags in badges or wristbands, and an Apple iPhone, which can access each tag's location on its screen displaying a map of the ship. The location information is transmitted to the iPhone via the ship's existing Wi-Fi nodes. The system also enables the iPhone user to send an alert when needed, to those wearing the wristbands.
Royal Caribbean installed a Wi-Fi network of nearly 1,000 access points on the ship, with plans for a host of wireless services intended to improve passengers' experience on board—all under the name Royal Connect. The iPhones offer the passengers the ability not only to locate their party members, but also to make reservations at restaurants and spas by calling or sending messages to those merchants, track daily activities by accessing daily postings of those activities, and receive notifications when, for example, their table is ready at a restaurant. The software that manages data for these services was provided by DeFi Global, located in Scottsdale, Ariz.
One service in which the cruise line was interested was helping passengers track their group or family members. Without technology, searching for a missing passenger would require a considerable amount of time and effort, especially onboard a vessel the size of the Oasis of the Seas. There are as many as 6,000 passengers at a time, along with 2,000 crew members; 16 passenger decks; a "Central Park" with boutiques, restaurants and bars; a spa; a fitness center; and more.
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