Romo Durable Graphics has always had a passion for helping customers realize opportunities to eliminate distractions or noise so they can focus on growing their businesses. A chance call from a producer of televised poker tournaments lead to one of Romo’s most unique opportunities to do just that. In this case, the opportunity involved turning a deck of cards into a stack of “functional graphics.”
A functional graphic is exactly what the name implies. It’s a graphic that looks great, holds up over long periods of time in harsh environments, and performs a function that goes beyond decoration. Romo has produced functional graphics for years, developing things like their proprietary SlapStick® covers, which stick to all kinds of surfaces without causing damage, and utilizing technologies like QR codes to provide links to more complex information. But this opportunity went way beyond anything they'd done before.
The tournament producer had a serious problem. Part of what makes a televised poker tournament exciting is tracking the odds. If you’ve ever watched one, you know that the drama is created when the players lift the corners of their cards just slightly so the cameras on the table can show viewers the cards they’ve got. Graphics on the screen keep track of each player’s odds of winning that hand.
But that was the producer’s problem. He had a small army of people behind the scenes who manually calculated the odds after seeing each player’s hand. There was no way they could keep up with the pace of play. So, there was no way the producer could broadcast the tournaments live. It would be a disaster.
That’s when he picked up the phone and gave Romo a call. And so the voyage began.
The producer had an idea of how to solve his challenge. His idea was to somehow use RFID (radio frequency identification) technology to tell a computer what cards were dealt to each player during a tournament. The computer could do the heavy lifting of calculating each player’s odds of winning almost instantly.
If he could get that to work, he could finally broadcast live tournaments and capture the real-time excitement of the game. He needed someone to go all in on his idea and help him make it happen. Romo saw it as an opportunity to take functional graphics to a new level, and enthusiastically accepted the challenge.
It took some work, but Romo figured out how to create cards that contain a unique RFID tag. When it was all said and done, you could barely tell these playing cards from a standard deck. Romo paired the cards with a chip reader that read the cards as they were dealt, giving the producer the data he needed to make his vision a reality.
Armed with his new playing cards and his chip reader, the producer was finally able to get real-time odds calculations as cards were dealt to each player. This was a huge game changer for his tournaments. Once the system was up and running, he was able to transition to live tournament broadcasts, which has lead to a tremendous growth in viewership.
Romo has continued to experiment with RFID technology, and offers custom-engineered functional graphics utilizing the technology to several different industries.