Okemo introduces RFID lift access

LUDLOW–Skiers and riders visiting Okemo Mountain Resort will no longer have to fumble with gloves, zippers and lanyards as they search for lift tickets and season passes prior to loading a lift. Instead, they can glide through special gates equipped with RFID readers that scan radio-frequency-identification-enabled cards that can be stowed safely inside jackets or pants pockets. This technology makes the cumbersome visual checking of lift tickets and season passes a thing of the past. After an initial visit to the ticket window to purchase an Okemo Real.Easy Card, skiers and riders can go direct-to-lift on subsequent visits; they simply visit to load new products like lift access and even resort credit onto their card prior to visiting.

Beginning this ski season, all Okemo lift access products will be sold as RFID-enabled cards, although only Okemo Real.Easy Cards will be personalized and reloadable. After registering their unique-to-purchaser Real.Easy Card, skiers and riders can re-load the card online. In addition to convenience, a major benefit of purchasing lift access online is that skiers and riders can save up to 25 percent on the published lift access rates; with greater discounts corresponding to how far in advance lift access is purchased. Made of durable plastic, cards can last for years and Real.Easy Cards can be used over and over again to purchase lift access.

“We work toward being a leader in the use of technology,” said Okemo Mountain Resort owner Tim Mueller. “We recognize that our guests are attuned to the conveniences associated with new technologies and we strive to serve them in a way that demonstrates ‘The Okemo Difference.’”

RFID is an acronym that stands for Radio Frequency Identification. RFID is a generic term for technologies that use radio waves to recognize people or objects through the use of a microchip and an antenna (the chip and the antenna together are called an RFID transponder or an RFID tag). The antenna enables the chip to transmit the information to a reader. The reader converts the radio waves reflected back from the RFID tag into digital information. RFID is a proven technology that has been around since the 1970s.

Until recently, it was too expensive and too limited to be practical for many commercial applications. As it becomes more affordable to manufacture tags, RFID will likely be used to overcome many of the problems associated with barcode scanning. Radio waves travel through most non-metallic materials, so tags can be embedded in protective plastic for weather-proofing and greater durability. The RFID reader sends out electromagnetic waves. The tag antenna is tuned to receive these waves. A passive RFID tag draws power from a field created by the reader and uses it to power the microchip’s circuits. The chip then modulates the waves that the tag sends back to the reader and the reader converts the new waves into digital data.

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