Spartan Race Automates Athlete Action Shots with RFID

Posted by | Date:

Hi, my name is Tony Mai, and I am the Internet Marketing Manager here at L-Tron Corporation. I’ve been constantly asking my team to write more blogs, so it’s only fair that I write one, too.

120811-Z-FW757-340I recently signed up for the Spartan Race. For those of you that are not familiar with the Spartan Race, it is a series of extreme obstacle foot-races with varying distance. I signed up for the Spartan Beast, the toughest of the series, which is over 13 miles in distance along with over 25 obstacles, ranging from carrying sandbags uphill to barbed wire crawls (probably not the best idea for my first Spartan Race). In summary, this obstacle race is a test of mental willpower and physical strength. I will be training hard for this race for the next two months. Wish me luck!

As I was browsing their website on past races, the amount of data on their website amazed me. For each race, they listed out every participant along with their race statistics (pace, rank, time, etc.) and photos and videos, all available free of charge! The website said that there are nearly 100,000 photos and 200 hours of HD videos taken at each Spartan Race.

Being a digital marketer in the data collection and automation industry, I started doing some research on how Spartan Race accomplishes this feat. Each participant is given an RFID-based timing chip at the start of the race and each obstacle area is mounted with motion-sensor cameras. When a participant is within range of the camera, it will automatically take action shots and associate the shots to that participant.

According to RFID Journal, this technology is brought to the Spartan Races by Fleye, “a company that combines video and RFID technologies to allow sports enthusiasts to capture, view and share their action shots online.” Fleye started testing their software at ski resorts using custom RF Digital ultra-high-frequency (UHF) active readers, EPC Gen 2 passive UHF tags from Zebra Technologies, and a Nano UHF reader module from TagSense. Skiers are provided with wristbands that contain a low frequency RFID inlay, which is associated with their e-mail address. They scan their wristbands before entering an action area and the motion-sensor cameras take action shots of the skier going down a halfpipe or doing a jump. The camera then transmits the images back to the server via Wi-Fi or Ethernet, which becomes available immediately for viewing.

 

Since each Spartan Race is designed differently with unique trails and obstacles, Fleye developed a mobile solution that can be installed and taken down easily. Instead of the aforementioned UHF tags, Spartan Racers carry a multi-frequency J-Chip  active RFID tag from Micro Talk Systems that allows for more precise pinpointing. The camera will be able to pick up each individual’s climbing through mud or jumping over fire, even if the area is crowded with multiple participants with multipage tags or if the tag is covered in mud or water. Once these collected photos and videos are uploaded, it will automatically be sent to the user’s email or social media accounts, depending on their preferences.

I am amazed how much automation is involved with the Spartan Race. I no longer need to have a friend come and try to snap blurry photos of me going through the obstacle courses from afar. All of the glory shots (and even embarrassing shots) will be taken automatically and uploaded onto the web for participants to view and share later with friends.

I am excited for and nervous about this race at the same time. I will be training hard for this event. No matter what the outcome of this race will turn out to be, I am sure I will push myself past what I thought my limits are and have a great time!