Vail Resorts to utilize Zebra printers

Zebra Technologies, a supplier of specialty printing and automatic identification solutions, has announced that Vail Resorts, a mountain resort operator in the U.S., has selected Zebra's new P330i UHF RFID card printer/encoders and custom-designed UHF cards to create RFID-enabled identification cards for use with Vail Resorts' "easy scan" system.

Zebra said the new system is designed to provide instant authentication of lift pass holders at the company's ski resorts of Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado and Heavenly in Calif., and Nevada.

"We're always looking for new ways to enhance the experience for our guests, and the 'easy scan' system is designed to do just that," said Robert Urwiler, Vail Resorts CIO. "We've been very happy with the Zebra printers we already use in our operations, and we are confident that the new P330i UHF RFID card printer/encoders will provide the performance we need to fulfill our goals."

Vail Resorts will use handheld RF scanners to detect lift passes through skiers' coats, providing an easier, more convenient experience without the need for the swiping or barcode scanning of passes. The new RFID-enabled system consists of a Zebra Gen 2 RFID card and Zebra P330i passive UHF RFID card printer, which was selected based on ease of use, speed and reliability.

The RFID-enabled card system was created by the Vail Resorts technology team and will be implemented for the 2008-2009 ski and snowboard season at all five ski resorts.

"The P330i passive UHF RFID card printer/encoders, along with the UHF Gen 2 RFID cards we designed, are ideally suited for the lift pass auto-ID application," said Steve Park, vice president and general manager of RFID at Zebra. "Providing longer read ranges and unique identification capabilities that facilitate higher levels of security and authentication, the Zebra solution will help Vail Resorts continue to deliver on its promise of exceptional customer experience."

Zebra P330i passive UHF RFID card printer/encoders feature 4 MB image memory standard and a 16-character LCD display. The printer/encoders are designed for use with Zebra-designed cards and are also compatible with cards provided by other manufacturers. Product options include a magnetic encoder, and built-in Ethernet capability. The printers deliver clear, vibrant color printing and print resolution of 300 dpi.

The EPC Gen 2 cards used by Vail Resorts include a chip featuring strong sensitivity and a Unique ID (UID) serial number that cannot be changed or duplicated, thus protecting against forging or cloning of ski lift passes. The card's inlay antenna (patent pending) was designed by Zebra specifically to maximize performance and read range and to enhance security in access control applications.