You're departing your house or office, and a machine beeps to prevent you from leaving if you forgot your wallet, keys, iPhone, iPad, sunglasses or jacket? Sound cool?
That day may not be far away, which is great for distracted people like me who have the ability to forget the bread in a PB&J sammy.
While it's not quite ready to tell us if we've lost our minds, at Park City Mountain Resort and some others, a technology reasonably new to ski resorts called Radio Frequency Identification is able to decipher if you have your lift ticket anywhere on your body. In any pocket. Zipped and tucked away. Those pesky triangular pins and adhesive tickets can go stick themselves.
The new system is amazingly easy, and the best part is, you can avoid ticket window lines for a whole season or trip just by reloading money on an app that works on iPhones and Androids. Think cars driving through a toll road. When it recognizes your annual pass, that's RFID.
RFID is really taking off in many different fields. It’s been used to track marathon runners and even to locate breast tumors during surgeries, among other things.
Monday, while in Utah attending the Sundance Film Festival, I decided to hit the slopes with film stylist and passionate snowboarder Lindsay Morris. Snow was dumping and there's nothing quite like fresh Utah powder.
As we approached the Payday lift to start our day, Lindsay cruised right through the gate. I (of course) couldn't remember which of my 14 pockets held my lift ticket -- actually a receipt with a bar code.
But it didn't matter. I just pushed up to the gate, and it recognized me instantly, just like a family member. Lift lines were fast and efficient.
The Park City smartphone app also allows you to plan, track and share your day with your buddies. There's real-time info on lifts and run conditions, as well as weather updates. You can keep a record of your number of runs and total elevation, your max speed and distance traveled. Pretty cool.
Think of the other eventual applications in sports. If you're a season-ticket holder, maybe you could keep that one ticket with you all year. It could work for food, souvenirs and parking at the stadium. When your total runs low, you just add to it online.
It seems like half the time we spend in food lines at sporting events is caused by clumsy monetary transactions, even when a debit or credit card is used. With RFID, your beer man can recognize you without even scanning a bar code. All he has to do is pour, so we can cut those wait times significantly.
It's a lot different from 1963, the year Park City opened as Treasure Mountain. Back then skiers ascended the runs on old mining cars. A hoist pulled the cars up mountains. Instead of ski revenue and film festivals, coal and silver supported the local economy. It was offloaded in what is now Town Plaza. Today, the King Con lift is named after the Silver King Consolidated Mining Company.
Almost 50 years later, movie stars at Sundance aren't the only ones being recognized. And the ski lifts don’t even ask for your autograph.
-- Follow Rick Schwartz on Twitter @Rick_Schwartz.
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