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RFID Sets Sail With Quantum of the Seas

Royal Caribbean has installed RFID technology on its brand-new ship, with wristbands that let passengers pay for food, drinks and services, as well as unlock state rooms, while RFID bag tags are used to provide updates about the location of luggage.
By Claire Swedberg

Prior to arriving at the ship, passengers can purchase a WOWband wristband for $2, which would then be waiting for them within their guest staterooms. They can also buy the band at a Royal iQ kiosk.

"The wristband is used very much the same way the room key is used," says Bill Martin, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.'s CIO. A user can access his or her room by swiping the wristband near the RFID-enabled door lock, which then prompts the lock to release and allow that person room access. At the ship's restaurants, bars, casino, gangway and arcade, as well as at areas set aside for the Adventure Ocean youth and teen programs, the wristbands can be read at the point of sale (POS), where VeriFone POS RFID readers are installed, in order to make payments. In this case, an account is set up for that individual in advance, and he or she is then billed at the end of the voyage.

Royal Caribbean installed approximately 280 FEIG Electronics RFID readers onboard Quantum of the Seas as part of a ship-wide transaction and identification network.
The wristbands are made with a 13.56 MHz NXP Semiconductors Mifare Ultralight C RFID chip complying with the ISO 14443 standard—a more secure option than the ISO 15693 standard, according to Michael Hrabinas, the executive VP of Feig Electronics, which provided the HF readers used in the self-service Royal iQ kiosks. The cruise ship installed approximately 280 Feig Electronics Obid Classic Pro CPR 40 RFID readers, Hrabina reports.

In addition, the cruise line installed battery-operated VingCard RFID-enabled lock mechanisms at 3,394 doors, to provide guests with access to their rooms. The locks' RFID readers enter a low-power sleep state when not in use. "It's important to extend the battery life through power-management techniques," Hrabina says. The approach of a tag awakens the device, which then reads the tag, controls the door lock and returns to the sleep state. Two AA batteries can last for up to three years, he adds, and for tens of thousands of transactions.

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