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Insider's BLOG from the RFID Experts

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Vail shows that Consumer RFID delivers a better experience


describe the imageCoverage of the RFID industry is dominated by business to business (B2B) applications.   Supply chains from Airbus to Walmart are chock full of RFID tags.  RFID is delivering B2B visibility, operational efficiency and enhanced security that cuts costs, inventory and lead times.


Vail’s RFID for Consumers is just the beginning


When it comes to consumer RFID applications there isn’t as much action.  Sure we take for granted automated toll collection, pay at the pump and security card access.  These are applications that demonstrate how everyday tasks can be automated with RFID.  They become less of a hassle. 

Our friends at Vail Resorts are now showing us that RFID can dodescribe the image more than just reduce hassle, it can improve consumer experience.  Vacations, recreation, sports are all social activities.  As more people have moved their social lives online it is only natural that consumer experience innovators such as Vail Resorts would fuse the physical and digital social worlds. 

RFID makes Facebook, EpicMix and Other Updates Automatic 

(see video)


Vail Resorts is more than just Vail.  It includes premium ski destinations Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Heavenly and Keystone.  For several years Vail has embedded RFID tags into season passes to make lift lines less of a hassle.  This was innovative in the way EZPass makes life better for commuters. 

However, the Vail team saw a bigger opportunity: leveraging RFID data to truly transform the social aspects of the skiing experience.  The EpicMix program integrates RFID tagged season passes and RFID readers on the mountain with Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites as well as updates the new EpicMix skiing website.  EpicMix tracks vertical feet across all five resorts, allows friends to compete and share their experience (see more here).  It all can be accessed via a computer or even a smart phone right from the mountain.  Friends can track your epic mountain escapades and you don’t even have to make the updates.  Your EpicMix settings and RFID enabled ski pass do it for you. 

When you are already operating world premier ski resorts, how do you make the experience even better?  The answer from Vail is to make it more personal and do it automatically with RFID.  Don’t require people to update the Facebook page or do their own calculations on runs and vertical feet on their iPhone.  Fuse the physical and digital socialsphere by leveraging RFID to experience true real-time social media. 

RFID Consumer Experience Get Scalable


describe the imageAt ODIN we see Vail’s EpicMix as the beginning of a trend for RFID enabled consumer experiences and are proud to be a part of making it happen.  Whereas Coke experimented with RFID and Facebook updates at its Amusement Village this summer, Vail is taking it several steps further.  To succeed they are leveraging scalable RFID software and highly accurate, durable and innovative reader configurations (more on this in a future post). 

Consumers have more choice than ever before and companies like Vail are embedding true differentiation into consumer experience.   I am happy to see RFID move beyond the supply chain and into some serious fun.  See you on the mountain.  If not, you can see me on EpicMix and Facebook and FourSquare, and Twitter, and…you get the picture. 

Enter your comment below.  Are you going to try out EpicMix this year?


Posted @ Monday, October 25, 2010 9:57 AM by john gury
Hey guys,  
I'm Drew and I work for Vail Resorts. 
Thanks for the review of EpicMix. We're realy proud of it and can't wait to hear what everyone has to say about their experience with it on the mountain.  
Posted @ Tuesday, November 02, 2010 5:45 PM by SnowDotCom
I think this will be fun for vacationing skiers and some weekend warriors. Although I don't like the issue of data collection regarding my vertical feet. Their is no way to opt-out of the resort collecting my data without mutilating my pass. As these RFID networks grow around the mountain I have other privacy concerns. 
As for phone apps, a person installing these apps must ask, "Does the app continue to send data (including location) back to the company? And do I want that?" Many of the current location based phone apps do. At least I have a choice to make, "Do I choose to download the app or not?" 
RFID enabled passes are ultra-convenient for the skier or rider for scanning at the base lifts. I think there will be a large population who think it is cool and think the benefits will be neat. Yet, there is a large population of guest who prefer not to be scanned from lift to lift once we are out of the base area. Nor do they want the RF network to expand from current lift based locations. The data collected from a group of people who are active with discretionary time and money is highly desirable demographic for resorts and their affiliates. A this point the resorts don't allow for flexible solutions to let the guest turn their tracking on and off. 
The Privacy Policy of Vail Resorts allows them to give usage or skier/rider data to 3rd party affiliates. And puts the responsibility on the guest to read the resort affiliate's privacy policy to find out what they do with the data. And so on, and so on. 
A similar situation came to light in the Oct 18t WSJ article, Facebook in Privacy Breach. App developers were sending user info to their affiliates. One of which is RapLeaf. This is a company which pieces together data from many sources to create dossiers on individuals. 
I ski and ride for the freedom, fitness, and peace it gives me. I will be using the Ski Pass Defender to keep my usage data to myself. If I choose to track my vertical feet or get a "resort reward" I still can, but it is my choice. 
When skiing tracked or untracked, I prefer UNTRACKED.
Posted @ Wednesday, November 03, 2010 3:55 PM by jon
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