Monday, May 28, 2007

RFID tags in Bay to Breakers 2007

RFID tag from Bay to Breakers 2007

The thing in the picture is an RFID tag that was used to track runners in Bay To Breakers 2007. There are many privacy concerns with RFID but this was the first time I have actually benefited from this technology. In this case I got an attractive plastic thing that looks a bit like a medal. It’s a bit bigger than a quarter (coin) and you are supposed to attach it to your shoes. Then as you run over special pads at the start and finish of the race, a computer can track your times. This helped me as I had a delayed start for similar reasons to 2005, but RFID meant that my time was only reckoned from when I actually crossed the start line. My time this year was 1:03:38, faster than last year (probably because of the more accurate timing) but still annoyingly over the hour. I finished in 1634th place which was down from last year.

The RFID system used was made by ChampionChip from Nijmegen in The Netherlands, using technology manufactured by TI. You can read about the mats and controllers, and the RFID chips themselves.


  1. The ChampionChip web site says, "Remove the chip before putting the shoe in the washing machine." This sounds like one of those laughably obvious things --but last weekend I accidentally put my RFID-based BART smart card (of which I am quite fond) through the laundry. Happily, it still works fine.

  2. Those BART cards seem to have dual interfaces: RFID and SmartCard. Of course they don't take commuter checks, etc. etc.