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Joe Stuteville
IU School of Informatics
812-856-3141 (o)
317-946-9930 (c)

Last modified: Monday, April 16, 2007

IU Informatics students to test tracking technology at Little 500

April 16, 2007

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A team of Indiana University School of Informatics seniors are breaking away again this year with a special project to accurately track riders' progress in the IU Student Foundation's Little 500 bicycle races, April 20-21.

Team iCycle will be fitting some racing teams with radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. 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.

Little 500 bicycle race photo

IU informatics students will apply RFID technology to Little 500 bicycle races.

Print-Quality Photo

Riders from up to 13 men's and women's teams 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 reader equipment near the first and third turns, also will record information about racers' lap times, speeds and speed deviations over several laps.

"We just recently ran a successful test at the track with a rider using tags on his helmet, and we've been testing our Web site as well," said Dan Schultz, a Fort Wayne, Ind., native. "The addition of the second reader on the third turn should increase our chances of getting better results."

Schultz is joined by fellow informatics students Matt Leverone of Cincinnati; Dustin McCain of Jeffersonville, Ind.; and Pan Zhang of China. Their collaborative work is their Capstone project, a requirement for all students completing a Bachelor of Science in informatics.

"This project demonstrates the true spirit of informatics, with the students combining their passion for technology and problem solving in real environments," said assistant professor Dennis Groth, who oversees the Capstone projects. This year's iCycle project builds upon the tremendous success of last year's inaugural iCycle project. The students have learned advanced technology, team management, customer relationship management and logistical support."

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

The IU Student Foundation, which organizes and oversees the Little 500, has given strong support for Team iCycle to carry out its work. And it marks the second consecutive year informatics students have tested the RFID technology at the races.

"We are honored to have Team iCycle and Manhattan Associates involved in our race for a second year," said IUSF Assistant Director Lucas Calhoun. "We hope to continue with Team iCycle in the future and see potential for their involvement in many of our events."

Manhattan Associates, a supply tracking company based in Atlanta, Ga., is lending technical support to Team iCycle. The team is using RFID equipment from Alien Technology, which is headquartered in Morgan Hill, Calif.

"Our project is an excellent way to apply some of what we have learned at the School of Informatics with a high-profile tradition at Indiana University," said Schultz, who after graduating next month, will go to work as a systems analyst with Accenture in Chicago.

The Little 500, held annually at Bill Armstrong Stadium, is a much-anticipated event in central Indiana. The event inspired the 1979 movie Breaking Away, which was filmed on campus and in the Bloomington area. This year's races get under way Friday, April 20, with the 20th running of the Women's Little 500, and concludes the following day with the 57th running of the Men's Little 500.

More Information about the Team iCycle project is at Background about the Little 500 is at Joe Stuteville, IU School of Informatics, can be reached at 812-856-3141, 317-946-9930 (cell) or