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RFID Scores High at Australian Open

Thousands of tennis fans used radio frequency identification to have photos taken, win prizes, post Facebook updates or get courtesy rides back to the city center.
By Dave Friedlos
Mar 04, 2013

More than 20,000 fans at the Australian Open tennis tournament held in Melbourne Park this past January employed radio frequency identification to have their photographs taken, as well as win prizes, communicate with friends via Facebook, or receive a courtesy ride back to the city center.

Tennis Australia—which organized the Australian Open and is the governing body of tennis within that nation—adopted the technology as part of its Open Interactive fan experience, allowing visitors to sign up for an RFID-enabled lanyard, which they could then tap at RFID readers located at sponsors' booths, in order to receive benefits and earn prizes.

To win a courtesy ride back to town, Australian Open attendees simply had to tap their RFID card at "Tap Towers" set up at booths operated by Kia and by Jacob's Creek.

At the Grand Slam Oval, Australian Open's entertainment precinct, booths were set up by sponsors that included Kia Motors Australia, winemaker Jacob's Creek, Tourism Victoria, health insurer Medibank, telecommunications firm Optus, chocolate maker Cadbury and fitness program provider Cardio Tennis. The sponsors offered prizes as part of the promotion, including a trip to the United States, mobile phones and a courtesy ride in a Kia car.

Cate Murray, a Tennis Australia executive, says the idea was formed at the company's annual sponsors' forum with key clients, in which the businesses discussed current trends and the best way to engage customers in the new digital age. "We were looking at different ways to engage the more than 686,000 people who attend the Australian Open during the two weeks of the tournament, 40 percent of whom attend the visitors' experience site on the Grand Slam Oval," she says. "Kia and Jacob's Creek really drove the interest in RFID technology."

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