Riding Radio Waves
Are radio frequency identification tags good just for cutting costs in the supply chain? Not hardly. Theme park operators think they can boost sales. (Baseline)As project leaders ponder pilots of radio frequency identification systems this summer, in the rush to meet the mandates from Wal-Mart, Target, the Department of Defense and others, the real action may be at the theme parks where theyll take their kids. A series of pilots are set to begin at regional and national theme parks. Baseline has learned that Walt Disney Co. is planning to use radio waves to track assets such as laundry, beverages and bus shuttles that ferry visitors around its parks. The Disney pilots are in the early stagesthe company in some cases hasnt even selected a tag vendor yetbut the company does plan to use radio frequency identification (RFID) tagging throughout its parks. Disney would not comment, and details about pilots by the company and other theme park operators are sketchy. Oklahoma City-based Six Flags Inc., however, did confirm that Memorial Day will kick off pilots at four of its water parks in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Dallas and Jackson, N.J. Six Flags plans to give patrons wristbands with chips that emit radio waves. The wristbands can be loaded up with the digital equivalent of cash. Instead of digging through wet dollar bills, park visitors swipe their wristband past a reader and have an amount deducted from their stash.
This summer will mark the first time RFID pilots are widely deployed in theme parks, one of the sectors on the frontier of using radio-wave tagging for consumer applications. Analysts expect RFID to be commonplace within the next three years.