Software developer uses RFID tags for raceway timing
BY JOHN SEELMEYER
A Fernley-based software company has successfully completed a key test of a system that uses RFID tags for timing and scoring of race vehicles.
The radio-frequency identification tags similar to those attached to pallets to track inventories through a warehouse hold promise of sharply reducing the cost of outfitting race cars and motorcycles with timing devices.
Chris Keane, chief executive officer of privately held Zoomius Inc., said the company outfitted 100 motorcycles at a race at Reno-Fernley Raceway with RFID tags or less than $1 each. The transponder systems that currently are used at racetracks cost several hundred dollars each.
The test during the Z2/USGPRU motorcycle race weekend at Reno-Tahoe Raceway in late August covered practice sessions and qualifying runs along with the races themselves.
Participants who had a Wi-Fi enabled computer could track timing and scoring, results and lap times in real-time.
“Our receivers gave everyone staff and racers alike a complete and accurate picture of everything that was happening at any moment,” Keane said.
The RFID system has successfully timed vehicles traveling as fast as 180 mph during tests at the raceway south of Fernley, and Keane says it can sort and identify vehicles traveling in a cluster, such as at the start of a race. Those issues have stalled other attempts to develop RFID timing and scoring systems, he says.
Zoomius Inc. has filed a patent application on the RFID-based timing and scoring system.
The software, Keane says, has been in development for six years and will be marketed as part of a suite of event-management software developed for the race industry.
Zoomius software handles registration of race participants, ticket sales to spectators and business management for owners of racetracks.
The racing industry, Keane says, has been hungry for better management systems because few of its key executives got into the industry as a business opportunity.
“There has been a lot of disorganization built into the industry because it was run by hobbyists,” he says.
The company also targets the schools market for its event-management software.
While Zoomius may be far from the software culture of Silicon Valley, its Fernley location provides an even more important amenity proximity to the Reno-Fernley Raceway.
Keane, an Australian who worked more than 10 years for Sun Microsystems before striking on his own, is a retired motorcycle racer and also ran a racing school at the Fernley track before he decided to focus fulltime on the software company.
“The thing that I like most about entrepreneurship is I can work toward something that I’m passionate about and be at the forefront of the change that I want to see happen,” said Priyanka Senthil, a senior at Davidson Academy in Reno and co-founder of startup company AUesome.