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Mercedes-Benz Automates Facebook Check-Ins At PGA Tourney

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Facebook check-in kiosk using RFID

Facebook check-in kiosk using RFID

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Back in April, Mercedes-Benz tried its hand at geolocation, offering a $1,000 discount to shoppers who checked in on Foursquare at the 2011 New York Auto Show. Now, the company is trying something a little different: automated Facebook check-ins using radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags.

RFID is fairly new technology, but it's full of promise. Small enough to be attached to ants, the tags can be placed almost anywhere. Depending on the type of chip that's used, RFID tags can be read from a distance of at least several feet, if not further. (Zipcar members rely on RFID technology to gain access to rental vehicles, and in some countries, RFID is even being used for toll tags.)

Mercedes' application involves the placement of RFID chips on VIP passes at this week's PGA Championship. After a very quick set-up linking their RFID tags to their Facebook account, VIP visitors can use their ID badges to check in at various kiosks throughout the event and "like" certain vehicles. There are even kiosks that take the hassle out of pic-taking and pic-posting: visitors scan their badge, fix their hair, and let the kiosk take the photo and post it to Facebook.

There's no word about what incentives Mercedes is offering in exchange for these check-ins, so at the moment, the campaign seems driven purely by the prestige factor of being a VIP at a golf tournament. Now that the genie is out of the bottle though, we expect to see more companies -- automakers and others, too -- using RFID to enable check-ins and ultimately round up new customers. The only question is: will RDIF be about to beat near-field communication (NFC) in the upcoming battle for cashless payments?

For the curious, here's a video showing how the RFID check-ins work:

[Mashable]

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