How will competitive sports look like after Covid-19? Crowds are definitely expected, as more people will be eager to retake their activities and enjoy the collective human experiences they’ve been deprived due to lockdown restrictions. However, the key change will feature timing technology, which uses the most modern devices that make the most out of races, triathlons, bike routes, and basically any other sports competition.
Sure, tags and bracelets have been used for the past few years to track the timing of participants, which is the least they expect when they sign up for a competition. But the newest timing devices are game-changers, since they transform the entire experience and provide reliable results –all while optimizing resources and delivering great performance.
Which new devices will change the future of competitive sports? Here’s a quick roundup:
- NFC System
It stands for “near field communication”, which is a system that can communicate two devices placed between short distances. Based on a “drop and go” design –meaning it’s wireless, hassle free and quick to install–, this system consists of two main pieces of hardware. The first is a silicone NFC timing band that the athlete wears. By placing the band in close contact with the NFC Pod, the pod stores all timing data from the athlete and sends it to the Cloud, where results are displayed automatically. Users can also connect their pods over LAN to timing software.
Best for: Running clubs, since each member can register independently and a timing band is permanently linked to their profile. Results are calculated automatically and events are managed via a mobile app.
- Solar-charged transponders
Probably the most innovative timing tech in the market -and one that is good for the world, too. Solar-charged transponders are also “drop and go”, as they do not require wire loops or mats and can be set up and ready in less than 30 seconds. They deliver extremely high accuracy in demanding environments. They’re also enabled for Bluetooth and NFC, and their internal rechargeable battery, which runs on indoor/outdoor ambient light, keeps it running for approximately 10-12 hours.
Best for: High performance sports such as road cycling or ski
- UHF RFID system
It’s a cheaper, but potent solution. It consists of placing a low-cost disposable RFID (radio frequency identification device) label to the back of participants’ race bibs and when they pass through the timing line, they are scanned by the UHF Pod. The UHF Pod is easy to deploy and use, it features a timing software, and is powered by an internal battery and charged with a 12V power supply. There are also separate ports for both USB and Ethernet connection.
Best for: Mass participation sports, like road running events or mountain biking.
- Visual ID
Verified results in high level competitions are a must. Visual ID software, such as the Visual Coder (VC), connects to various timing Pods and allows organizers to view and manage results in real time. The most recent ones can connect to most USB enabled cameras and time sync video to results.
Best for: mass participation races, like running or mountain bike teams
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