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Fitness and RFID Go Hand in Glove

A sportswear manufacturer has been selling a gym glove with a passive tag that health club-goers can use to access lockers and pay for food, beverages and services.
By Rhea Wessel
Mad Max began developing the RFID application five years ago as it sought ways to increase comfort for people who are exercising. The manufacturer ruled out RFID-based access cards since most gym-goers lack pockets on their clothing to hold them.

"If you are a woman, you won't have pockets on your training suit to be able to carry a chip the size of a credit card," Hermann says. "So, we were looking for a solution for integrating such chips directly into gloves, in order to increase the comfort of our customers during exercising, and use this technology without any limits."

The Mad Max system utilizes circular RFID tags that measure less than 1 millimeter (0.04 inch) thick and 25 millimeters (1 inch) in diameter, and fit into a special pocket of the right glove. Each tag contains an EM Microelectronic EM4102 64-bit read-only 125 kHz chip encoded with a unique ID number. Although the tags are encased in plastic, they must be removed from the glove whenever it is washed, in order to avoid damaging the tag.

As health clubs move to a self-service model, Hermann says, their operators constantly seek ways to automate a variety of processes and reduce their personnel count.

According to Hermann, Mad Max found that the best technology for gyms was RFID, because it isn't too expensive, and because it is possible to integrate the technology into lockers, vending machines and access systems. "After such RFID systems are in place," he states, "gyms would ideally have only two employees present at the reception desk."

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