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Minnesota Vikings Take Fans on an RFID-enabled Voyage

The football team is using interactive technology that allows game attendees to participate in the same kind of fitness tests that the players must undertake, and to record their scores via NFC-tagged wristbands.
By Claire Swedberg

One of those activities is a virtual NFL Combine. The actual NFL Combine is a scouting process for NFL teams to identify potential players' skills. The drills that players endure include speed, strength and agility tests, through such activities as vertical jumps and ball catches. In the virtual version, Vikings Voyage visitors can test their own skills against those of the pros, by attempting a tackle or block, as well as running, jumping and making a catch. Much of the testing is accomplished with a virtual element—for instance, the catch involves a screen and an image of a ball that the participant must approximate catching through his or her position in front of that screen.

Fans can participate in the Forging Strength activity, which tests the force that an individual applies against a blocking sled; Sky to Valhalla, which tests vertical jump height; and Speed Prevails, a shuttle-run test. The fourth, Prove Your Honor, is a virtual-reality pass-catching game that uses Microsoft Kinect technology to identify a participant's location as the ball seems to be coming toward him or her from the screen. In that way, the system can score that individual's effectiveness at catching the ball.

Brent Haag, Dimension Innovations' account director
Upon completing an activity, the participant taps his or her wristband against the RF IDeas PC Prox X RFID reader, which captures the tag's ID and forwards that information, along with the person's scores, to the DI software, which links that data with the user's name.

Once finished, the participant enters the Halls of Valhalla, a reader-board social-media zone. There, the screen lists the participant's first name and total scores on the screen. The visitor can also compare his or her results with those of other participants, as well as the scores of some Vikings players. Fans will be expected to take their wristbands home, and to use them when participating in Vikings Voyage activities during subsequent visits to the stadium.

Curtis Walker, DI's technology director
Initially, the Vikings have acquired 50,000 wristbands. DI has been testing the technology in-house, Walker says. "So far," Haag reports, "it's going pretty smooth. There haven't been any major challenges" with the hardware or software.

Dreesen thinks the interactive space will be popular with attendees of the first game. "We hope to see [the Vikings Voyage] crowded from wall to wall," she says.

Sometime during the upcoming football season, Dreesen says, the team intends to integrate the DI score-capturing software with the Vikings app, which is available on iTunes and Google Play. In this way, those who have the app can view their scores on their phones, and share them with friends on social media.

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