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Read success is truly the measure of how well a particular timing system will read chips at your event. This concept is often confused with accuracy. At Innovative Timing Systems, we believe that one of the most important goals for our company is to create systems that will read as many chips as possible in every imaginable condition. That’s why we have invested a large sum of money for the past seven years in research and development, as well as patents.
Prior to Jaguar, nearly all systems used mats or ramps, and most still do today. This design may suffer for a number of reasons which have been well documented and understood. Let’s examine a few of these issues.
Potential Problems with mat/ramp systems:
Advantages of the Jaguar System Design:
A single runner may be read by as many as 8 antennas, which allows Jaguar to successfully capture the chip time without concern about the failure of an antenna.
In addition, Jaguar will read the chip on the runner as they approach the finish line from as much as 50 feet away. By the time the runner reaches the exact finish line, their chip may have been read hundreds of times. This unique technology is what allows Jaguar to deliver remarkable results at races.
Reading chips at high speeds with older technologies can be a challenge due to the fact that timing chips are only over a mat or ramp for a very short amount of time. There are also concerns about the safety of the participant when coming in contact with a mat or ramp at high speeds.
This photo shows a great example of why mats and ramps can be a problem on race day. Notice how the mats are curling up in the sun. This happens more often than you would think.
Jaguar doesn’t create these hazards and that means that you don’t have to worry about being sued when someone falls and becomes injured due to a ramp or mat causing them to slip or trip.
One of the greatest challenges facing any timing system is trying to read chips as they pass at a high rate of speed. It goes without saying that you would never use a mat or ramp-based system for timing these kinds of events. The danger is just too significant. With the Jaguar design, the antennas can be mounted overhead and/or to the side of the course to eliminate the risk of injury. Next, comes the challenge of reading chips very rapidly.
Jaguar is designed to see a chip nearing a timing point from a great distance away. This gives it plenty of opportunity to read the chip multiple times as it approaches perhaps the finish, where the final read is taken. The chip read speeds for Jaguar are so high that timing is very accurate at speeds up to 200mph. This has been accomplished at both auto and motorcycle races.
Fact: The faster a system can read a chip, the less missed reads you'll likely experience.
The ability to read accurately at the true finish line has been a challenge for many systems dating back to the very beginning of this industry. This is particularly true of systems that use ground antennas due to the number of mats and ramps required to read the chips.
At many races, you’ll see two or three sets or ramps or mats near or at the finish line. The interesting question becomes…which mat had the final chip read? If a vendor says that it’s the one at the finish line, you then have to ask why they need others before that final mat. Why can’t they just sell you a single mat that is 6 inches deep by 20 feet long?
Ask Yourself These Questions:
If a company tells you their mats or ramps read just fine at the finish line…ask them why they need 2 or 3 more sets of them in front of the finish line? Seems odd to claim that they read just fine at the finish line and yet they encourage you to use more of them.
If mats and ramps are so accurate, then why is it the Olympic Games use video to record the finish lines of all track & field events? Why wouldn’t they just use one mat or ramp for their events?
Mats can curl upwards creating the challenge of having safe split or finish points. Is it worth the potential liability to put athletes in harm’s way?
What to look for when it comes to read accuracy:
What does Jaguar do for redundency?
Jaguar was designed from the ground up to be reliable. If a Jaguar antenna fails, you have complete redundancy because of the overlapping read zones from the other antennas.
If a mat or ramp fails, you may lose up to 50% of your chip reads.
This is perhaps the greatest challenge for most timing systems. The ability to read perhaps 50 to 100 chips within a 1 to 2 second time period is difficult and problems have surfaced many times at large races. How do you know if a timing system can read large volumes of chips at one time?
It’s easy for any manufacturer to claim they time large races with a nearly 100% read rate. It’s a lot tougher for them to prove they truly did it that well. Ask yourself why some of the largest running, cycling, triathlon, mud run, kayak, paddle-board and mountain bike events in the world use Jaguar. It’s because it works well and it’s been proven at thousands of small and large races around the world in every imaginable environment.