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Mt. Bachelor Uses RFID For Lift Tickets (Updated)

While RFID is stupid, there's been so much money invested into it that it's really too late to switch to better technology. And while adoption of the technology hasn't been speedy by any means, Mt. Bachelor is apparently using it in their new lift tickets.

The company I work for is a lodging partner with Mt. Bachelor, so we are allowed to sell tickets to our guests. I went to their office today to pick up our first order of the season for this long weekend, and noticed the tickets look different than last year (and the few years prior). They're smaller, and have just a single smaller bar code. I asked the sales rep there about the new tickets, as it just seemed that the small barcodes would be hard to scan at the base of each lift. He told me there is a small radio antenna inside each card that gets picked up at the base of the lifts. I asked him if it were RFID, and he said that that sounded right.

The tickets that Mt. Bachelor uses are produced by RTP which talks right on their tickets page about the tickets that use RFID. I can only assume that they are Passive RFID tags that can only be read by an external antenna, as the tickets are small and thin and flexible so there's no way to have a power source in the ticket. That also means that people with these RFID-enabled tickets won't be broadcasting a radio signal unless activated by an antenna, so skiers don't have to worry about getting tracked around the mountain unless there are high-power antennas all over the mountain that I don't know about.

I've also been told that the area where the hole is in the ticket cannot be enlarged or modified -- I'm guessing because some of the RFID components are in that area around the hole.

If I didn't have to sell these tickets to guests, I'd dismantle one and post it here (but if I get a used one, I'll post it up). Anybody been skiing up there yet that has an old ticket that can verify this for me?

Update on 11/27/05: According to Mt. Bachelor (and thanks to Barney), the regular tickets are not RFID-enabled, but the Season Passes are. Makes sense, as the daily passes are a bit twinky while the season passes are a bit heavier-duty.

Posted by Jake on 11/23/05 @ 11:45 AM
Posted in Geekdom, Interesting, Local | Permalink

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