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RFID Sports Timing

Supplier: Electro-Com (Australia) Pty Ltd

Coordinating the times of thousands of runners during a race is no longer a marathon task! A sports timing system, based on TI-RFid™ technology, is collecting perfect timing data at major marathons around the world from Boston to Berlin.


The ChampionChip timing system begins when a runner outfitted with a transponder laced to their running shoe, passes over an antenna under the starting line. The process is completed as the runner crosses an antenna at the finish line.

.:  Wide acceptance at some of the world's most prestigious running events
.:  Ability to track individual times; important for runners minutes away from starting line
.:  Guards against cheaters by placing antennas at interim points
.:  Also used for triathlons, bike races, and ski events
.:  Data loads to Internet for everyone to access


The 2006 Australian Marathon
Texas Instruments RFID modules form the basis of a highly developed timing system developed by RFID Race Timing Systems. The system was used in exclusively at the Australian Ironman Event at Port Macquarie on April 1st, 2006. Over 1500 competitors were timed at many points throughout the 17 hour event which consists of a 3.8km swim, 180km bike ride and 42km run. Each timing point was networked to a central server so that the results could be processed in real time and sent to a web server so that the progress of the athletes could be monitored by the general public via the internet.

Athletes wear a specially designed ankle band and housing with a TIRIS 32mm glass transponder in it throughout the race. During the day, times are taken on the entrance to the water, swim exit, start of bike, bike laps, finish of bike, start of run, run laps and finishline. Furthermore there are special timing points linked to a commentary system enabling the commentators to immediatly identify each athlete and draw from a wealth of information stored for that athlete on a database.

"The 134.2 KHz low frequency RFID technology is still the benchmark for sports timing because of its reliability under field conditions". 

Accurate Scores Keep Motorcycle Racers on Track
Competitors in Hare Scramble and Enduro off-road motorcycle racing are speeding through designated checkpoints during races thanks to TI's RFID technology. Software developer John Bouma developed a program called Race Timer that uses TI- RFid tags and readers to improve scoring by minimizing lag-time, maximizing the amount of riders on the track at one time, and eliminating concerns about the accuracy of collected data — all of which have improved the overall professionalism of the sport.

In the past, teams were comprised of up to 20 individuals with roughly 120 riders on the track at one time. As the riders approached the single gate checkpoint, they needed to come to a complete stop to pass through individually, because their time was recorded manually using punch cards. The use of barcodes on riders' helmets improved the scoring process since data could be analyzed for lap times, starting times, and overall and class standings. However, riders still needed to come to a complete stop at the checkpoint to be scanned track side, which slowed the event and limited the number of participants.

Today, using TI-RFid technology, riders can continue racing through checkpoints. By strategically placing antennas throughout the racing trails and attaching a TI transponder with read/write capabilities to the rider's chest protector or front fender, the racer's time is recorded when he or she passes by the antenna at each checkpoint. The software automatically reads the rider's transponder and determines his status at each checkpoint, displaying his number, registered class, rank, and distance behind the closest rider in his class at that location.

TI-RFid has also enhanced the registration process by reducing queue time and paperwork. At registration, each rider is given a transponder, which is linked to a database containing all of the rider's pertinent information, including name, racing number, and competing class. Once assigned, a transponder is valid throughout a rider's career, and information can easily be updated on the spot using its read/write capabilities.

The sport is increasing in popularity with an average of 400 riders on the track at a time. While it would have been impossible to track and score this many riders using manual methods, the new scoring system with TI-RFid technology can now easily support 1,000 riders on the track simultaneously.

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