RFID Talk Blog

RFID tracks $1M in cash for UK game show Million Pound Drop

We recently published a case study about how the Agricultural Bank of China is using RFID to track money bags. When you think about it, tracking large sums of cash is a natural for RFID. So it should come as no surprise that the UK-based game show Million Pound Drop is using RFID to track the stacks of cash it uses on the popular show.

At the start of each show, teams are given $1 million in cash — 40 bundles containing $25,000 each, and must answer eight multiple choice questions to keep the money.

RFID is being used to track $1 million in cash on the Million Pound Drop.

The game consists of four trap doors that correspond to each possible answer. Players have 60 seconds to place the cash bundles in the drawers they think correspond with the correct answers. If a contestant answers incorrectly, money placed in those drawers tumbles into a trap door. The contestants win any money remaining in the drawers at the end of the eight rounds.

During the show, viewers at home and in the live audience are provided updates on the amount the teams have lost. Prior to RFID, The Million Pound Drop relied on six on-stage cameras and behind-the-scenes personnel to count how many bundles of money players placed on each trap door. However, sometimes camera angles were unreliable and the show had to have the host manually count the bundles of money on each trap door, which slowed down the speed and excitement of the game.

Cat and Mouse, the providers of the real-time graphics technology for The Million Pound Drop and other shows including Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, approached systems integrator Harland Simon to see if RFID technology could speed up the pace of the game by tracking the cash.

Harland Simon’s solution relies on an Impinj Speedway Revolution reader connected to four antennas custom-designed to fit under each trap door. Each bundle of money is tagged with a UPM Frog 3D RFID tag containing an Impinj Monza 4 chip with True3D antenna technology. When contestants place money bundles on trap doors, the readers register how many tags are on each trap door.

Harland Simon then calculates the dollar value and feeds the data back to the displays, communicating how much money contestants have saved or lost. All of the money is reliably accounted for in real-time, eliminating the need for the host to count it manually.

The show is able to show more interesting graphics of the money being moved and stacked on different trap doors, all in real-time. The Million Pound Drop has also reaped an unexpected benefit from the technology — insurance rates have been reduced because the show has better control of the money during the show.

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