ME and Ophelia

Monday, April 19, 2004

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Microchips on runners' shoelaces in London marathon
Sends data to mobile phones via Orange network

Serena Konig, in her Econzen blog about animals, writes about how one could keep track of friends running in yesterday's London marathon. And points to an article by David Adam in the Guardian:

"The future's bright, the future's having a little chip on runners' shoelaces that registers when they cross certain points and updates friends through their mobile phones. All courtesy of Orange, a sponsor of Sunday's London marathon.

The electronic shoelace chips have been around for about a decade and have been used in the London event since 2000. Designed to time people stuck at the back of the field when the official clock begins (and to allow event organisers to keep tabs on runners taking shortcuts or hopping on a bus), the silicon chips send a signal to a central computer when competitors cross special mats. Until now the timing data just sat on the organiser's system. This year it will be converted to text messages and sent to three pre-registered numbers.

The timing mats are placed at the start, finish and every 10km of the 40km race - meaning spectators now have more of a chance to spot their favourite marathon man or woman. But there is a catch. Amid the exhausted delirium of finishing the race, runners must remember to bend down and unhook the special chips. "They cost around £10 each so we want them back," says a marathon spokesman."
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Update via Scotsman:

"The text messaging service that was supposed to give updates on the progress of competitors was hit by problems yesterday. The free service run by mobile phone firm Orange was designed to let family and friends know how their loved ones were doing as they trudged round the 26.2-mile route. But some runners have said their supporters received the texts at the wrong times and one message congratulating a competitor for finishing was received over an hour after they had ended the race. An Orange spokesman said: “We are very disappointed we weren’t able to send all text messages we had planned to. “However we have successfully sent a text apology to all runners and their supporters for any problems they have encountered today.”

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 4/19/2004
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