Everybody loves a photo-finish. But, what if you can’t afford the camera? At prices that start around $25 thousand, high-speed cameras aren't practical for lower levels of racing. Now Hardcard Systems, in cooperation with Alien Technology, thinks they can lower the cost of electronic timing to just a few dollars per competitor—not with cheaper camera technology, but by shattering the speed limits on radio-frequency identification.
While RFID tags have become a popular timing method for marathons, it has proven more complicated to track a stock car moving about 16 times the speed of the fastest runners. Hardcard, however, has already successfully completed testing on motorcycles at up to 140 mph and has no doubt it will work at +200 mph. They've tested on dirt tracks, and have confidence that the paper thin stamp-size sticker can withstand the elements.
Testing to date has validated accuracy at 1/100s: more than sufficient for amateur and lower level races. A few minor tweaks should make RFID hit the 1/10,000s accuracy mark claimed by transponders. According to Hardcard, there are ongoing discussions with “major” players in the racing industry. Hmmm. Wonder who that could be?
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.