Microchip wristband becomes a theme park essential

At Precision Dynamics, what started out as simple hospital ID product has become a high-tech admission pass, a cashless debit card, a hotel room key and a way to reunite lost children with parents.

May 02, 2009|Hugo Martin

In a nondescript manufacturing plant on a quiet San Fernando cul-de-sac, a khaki-green machine the size of a buffet table sucks in bright pink ribbon and spits out one of the hottest features in theme parks.

Here, Precision Dynamics Corp., a company that began making plastic hospital wristbands out of a Burbank garage more than 50 years ago, has become the nation’s top producer of a new microchip-enhanced wristband for amusement parks, concerts, resorts and gyms.

The wristbands use the same technology as electronic tollbooths, security key cards and the newest U.S. passports. But at Precision Dynamics, this sophisticated electronic know-how has found its niche at theme parks, where the high-tech wristbands act as high-security admission passes, cashless debit cards, hotel room keys and a form of identification to reunite lost children with parents.

In the last year alone, Precision Dynamics’ wristbands came on line at Great Wolf Resorts’ newest water park in Concord, N.C.; at the Schlitterbahn Water Park in Galveston, Texas; and at Water World, one of the nation’s largest water parks, near Denver, Colo. In total, more than 50 theme parks across the country strap the wristbands on visitors.

Company leaders envision a future when they can expand the technology for use in border security and hospital identification, among other purposes.

“All sorts of things can be done with this technology,” said Walter Mosher Jr., a founder of the privately held company and a member of the board of directors.

Precision Dynamics began in 1956 when a friend who worked in hospital supplies suggested that Mosher, a UCLA engineering student, design a better wristband to identify patients at hospitals. At the time, hospitals made wristbands from plastic tubes, using separate tools to cut and fasten the bands on patients. For infants, hospital workers strung together lettered beads that spelled the babies’ names.

At the machine shop at Burbank High School, Mosher and two partners devised a one-piece plastic wristband that required no tools to fasten. The business that began with only $2,000 in start-up money has since expanded to 680 employees, a handful of trademark patents and offices in Belgium, Japan, Italy, Mexico and Brazil.

In 2006, Mosher sued Precision Dynamics in a dispute over the election of board members. But the dispute was settled out of court last year with a deal that keeps Mosher as a shareholder and a member of the board.

SOURCE: http://articles.latimes.com/2009/may/02/business/fi-wrist2

~ by Scat on December 10, 2009.

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