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ChampionChip is a brand name of one type of passive RFID transponders, marked with a unique identification number and used in active sports events to keep track of the competition times of participants. It is one manufacturer's implementation of transponder timing.
ChampionChip transponders are waterproof glass capsules that contain a silicon chip and an energizing coil. This coil is inactive until moved into a magnetic field, generated by a send antenna in a mat (used to mark the start and finish lines of a race). The transponder then transmits its unique identification number to a receive antenna in a mat.
Transponder timing is used in sporting events around the world, including running races, marathons, triathlons, cycling and mountain biking competitions, in-line skating and cross-country skiing. Chips are either rented for use at a given event or purchased by participants for successive use at events timed with ChampionChip mats (the chips are incompatible with other timing systems). In either case, the serial number of a participant's chip is stored in a database for an event allowing the recorded times to be matched with participants' names. Although a chip might transmit its number several times while the athlete is crossing the mat, special software is used to eliminate all but the first time recorded for each chip at each timing point.
In general, transponder timing is only economical for larger events of more than 1,000 participants. For smaller events, it is less expensive to time participants using manually operated hand-held computers.
When transponder timing first appeared, the running community hoped that there would be a single nationwide United States standard for transponders which could be used at all races. However, the distributor of ChampionChip in the United States has sought to limit the number of timing systems sold, resulting in different event timing companies purchasing incompatible transponder systems from other manufacturers. Since 2008, systems using disposable transponders have replaced ChampionChips at a number of events.
ChampionChip was a Nijmegen, Netherlands based company, started in 1993 by a group of students to improve the time tracking in the Zevenheuvelenloop. In 2008, ChampionChip was merged with AMB i.t. to form a new company called MYLAPS Sports Timing.
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