SkyeTek recently announced a partnership with Vail Resorts to integrate a comprehensive RFID system across all of its skiing facilities. SkyeTek, a provider of embedded RFID readers and systems to OEMs known for its RFID readers and interrogators, is working on a pilot RFID network to seamlessly connect all of the mountain’s services. The system will include tags, which SkyeTek will work with vendors to coordinate, readers, which feature software-enabled capabilities and the software interconnect, which will align the new network to Vail’s backend system.
There is currently no uniform system at Vail; it is made up of various non-interconnected technologies and methods. The ski passes are currently regulated using barcodes and scanners, which create lines while people wait for their barcode to be scanned by an attendant. With the introduction of SkyeTek’s proposed system, lines will theoretically move faster, but they can also be monitored in real time to indicate the volume of people going up the mountain. That volume information could then be posted at kiosks or in the lodge.
Mountain payment methods currently use a contactless RFID method, but there are two pay types, Vail Bucks and Mountain Money, which aren’t connected. Under the proposed system, each patron will only need one RFID tagged card or pass to ski, park, pay and even help identify lost children.
“They don’t want a number of disconnected technologies — one technology to buy food with, one technology to rent skis with, one technology to do parking passes with, one for lift tickets and so forth. They’d like a technology that could essentially tie together the entire user experience,” says Sayan Chakraborty, CTO of SkyeTek.
Vail is also looking at a broader deployment of other technologies, including GPS and cellular, to integrate with current technologies in order to create an enhanced experience for real-time evaluation and mapping of the mountain. “One of the nice things for us is it’s not RFID tracking boxes in the back of a warehouse; it’s RFID in the real world interacting with other technologies that each bring their own benefits to bare,” says Chakraborty.
When using RFID, privacy and security need to be addressed. According to SkyeTek, the security of its readers and systems is one of their strongest points. “Patron privacy and protection of patron data is designed in from the very beginning using high-strength security to make sure that there’s no exposure of people being inadvertently tracked or of their personal information being exposed,” says Chakraborty.
To coincide with the announcement of its partnership with Vail Resorts, SkyeTek also announced their professional service group, which aims to help OEMs integrate RFID systems.
“It wasn’t obvious to a lot of our customers how capable we are on the services side,” says Chakraborty. “A lot of our customers were banging their heads trying to integrate this stuff deeply, and yet we have these capabilities, so we just want to make sure that people were aware of them.”