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Joe Stuteville
IU Informatics

Last modified: Thursday, March 9, 2006

Students breaking away with project for Little 500

March 9, 2006

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Some riders hitting the track for this year's running of the Little 500 races will be sporting a little extra gear that will monitor their progress.

A team of undergraduate students from the Indiana University School of Informatics has been given the green flag by the IU Student Foundation to push ahead with iCycle, a project that will fit some teams' riders with radio frequency identification (RFID) tags.

"When the system is complete, we hope to be able to update a Web site we are constructing in real time so that there will be an accurate lap count for the entire race, by team and by rider," says William C. Woods. He is joined by Wes Michaels, Sara Fluhr, Gary Shoulders, Jonathan Feigle and Jordan Martz. They selected the iCycle project as their Capstone project, a requirement for all graduates of the School of Informatics.

RFID technology uses a tag, antenna, reader and middleware (software). A central antenna broadcasts a radio signal to the tag, which powers it and returns the signal. That signal is routed to a reader, which converts the information into useable data and then sends it to the software to be formatted and displayed.

Participating Little 500 riders will have the small rectangular-shaped tags mounted near the rear of their helmets to ensure a clear line of transmission to the central antenna. The iCycle team, which will be positioned with their equipment near the first turn, also will record information about racers' lap times, speeds and speed deviations over several laps.

The iCycle project is not an official timing system for the Little 500; rather, it validates the accuracy of that system and the effectiveness of RFID technology.

"We selected the Little 500 for our project because we really wanted to challenge ourselves, not only with a new technology but in finding a way to make the technology applicable to a real-world situation," says Woods, who will graduate in May with a degree in informatics with a focus in business.

"By choosing to work with the Little 500 we not only get to do this, but we also get to be involved in an exciting and unique school tradition," adds Woods.

The Little 500, held annually at Bill Armstrong Stadium, is a much-anticipated event at IU-Bloomington. The event inspired the 1979 movie, Breaking Away, filmed on campus and in the Bloomington area. This year's races gets under way Friday, April 21, with the Women's Little 500, and concludes the following day with the 56th running of the Men's Little 500.

"We feel that working the iCycle group is a great partnership with the IU Student Foundation and we are excited to see the information they generate from the Little 500," says IUSF Assistant Director Lucas Calhoun. "The use of RFID technology has the potential to produce some helpful information for the Little 500 community."

Manhattan Associates, an Atlanta, Ga.-based supply tracking company, is loaning the RFID equipment and technical support to the informatics students.

"The iCycle project demonstrates the diversity of skills and interests that informatics students possess," says Dennis Groth, assistant professor of informatics and Capstone director. "The team has excelled at learning how to integrate diverse technologies, while managing a complex web of partner organizations."

More details about the IU School of Informatics Capstone Course and students' 2006 projects are at For more information about the Little 500 and the IU Student Foundation, go to

For more information, contact Joe Stuteville, 812-856-3141, cell: 317-946-9930 and