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RFID By the Seat of Your Pants

What will they think of next for RFID applications? A new game show that employs RFID technology for scoring debuted in August on the CW Television Network. The game show, entitled (and I’m not kidding) “Oh Sit!” presents contestants who play an extreme version of the old musical chairs game.

Each contestant goes through a sort of obstacle course, which includes water, with music playing in the background. Once the music stops, they must scramble for the nearest chair. The contestant who does not reach a chair is eliminated from the game.

Each chair has a particular cash award value, which is unknown to the contestant at the time of the game. Each time a contestant reaches the chair, the award points are added to his or her score.

To keep the scoring totals for each contestant accurate, the game uses RFID technology. The pants worn by each contestant contains the RFID tag, and the high-tech chair on which they sit has the reader. The passive low-frequency 125 kHz tags sewn in the pants transmits a unique ID number to readers, with custom antennas built into each of 10 specially designed chairs. The TV program’s own software links the tag’s ID to the participant, and the reader to a chair with a specific cash prize, and then calculates the amount of money that each contestant won, based on his or her seating choice.

The game show may not be of good quality, but overcoming issues related to RFID technology is interesting. The design of the chairs, for example was important to ensure that the reader cables didn’t become tangled in the chairs. Customization of the antenna was necessary to prevent tugging on cables  when the chairs swiveled. Overcoming the problem of RFID tags transmitting around water or through metal was another problem that was solved.

An interesting application, don’t you think?


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