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PGA Tour Tests RFID

The organization is working with Avery Dennison to explore ways in which EPC tags could help it automate a number of processes at its golf events.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
"I was actually a little surprised to see 100 percent," Burnett says, "because the tags were embedded in wristbands, which are worn close to the body, rather than on a lanyard around the neck, which gives more air buffer. But the AD-843 is a great performer—we call it the Silver Bullet."

PGA Tour was pleased with the technology's results at the Tour Championship, Burnett says, especially compared with a parallel test it conducted in a neighboring tent at the same event, during which bar-coded tickets were issued to guests. Because the guests needed to present their tickets for scanning every time they entered and exited the tent, queues eventually formed. Those issued bar-coded tickets were dissatisfied, he notes, and some dubbed the tent "Checkpoint Charlie."


The entrance to Avery Dennison's hospitalty tent is flanked by RFID reader antennas.
"The difference [between the two systems] was off the charts," Tyson states. "So from a contrast perspective, we knew RFID is a much better solution to having a good flow of traffic. In a head-to-head competition, RFID performed better than bar code for hospitality tents."

While the pilot did not extend beyond data collection, Tyson has identified other ways in which improved visibility of traffic flow could benefit PGA Tour. One area, he says, is in food and beverage service. At present, catering vendors charge PGA Tour based on the number of people that it estimates were served. But an actual headcount of guests entering the hospitality tent, he says, including the exact number of times that each person comes in and goes out, could provide Tyson with a way to audit the figures on which the vendors base their charges.

For this week's Northern Trust Open event, Avery Dennison worked with Stark RFID to embed the AD-843 tag into a badge issued to guests checking in at Avery Dennison's private hospitality tent. Around the tent's single entry and exit point, an Alien ALR-9900 reader with Motorola antennas has been set up, controlled by software from Stark RFID. Unlike the RFID wristbands utilized at the Tour Championship, which were issued to guests but not linked to their identities, each badge provided to one of Avery Dennison's visitors is paired with that person's name. When a guest, wearing the badge on a lanyard hung around the neck, enters this tent, the reader collects the ID number encoded to the badge's RFID tag and transmits that information to the software, which matches that ID with the guest's name. A message then appears on a large monitor inside the tent, such as "Welcome, Mr. Smith." If that guest leaves and then reenters, the message "Welcome back, Mr. Smith" is displayed.

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