Tag Archives: Mobile

Disney’s Creepy My Magic+ Bracelet: A Clever Big Data Hack

by Sally Applin

The New York Times recently posted an article about a new method Walt Disney World is experimenting with to improve circulation in the parks. It’s called the ‘My Magic+’ bracelet.

The article says that visitors would “wear rubber bracelets encoded with credit card information,” which would then make it easy to conduct point-of-sales transactions. Visitors could then simply wave their bracelets at counters and stands to purchase their snacks, meals and souvenirs. Furthermore, the full version of Magic+ can add interactive components via pre-loaded database information, prompting characters to know something about a visitor as they shake their hand, so that characters can give each visitor with My Magic+ a personal greeting. The bracelets will also function as “room key, park ticket, Fast Pass and credit card.”

This means that within the Walt Disney World environment, each purchase, ride and interaction will be tracked, logged and recorded and connected to the individual. Name and personal history information (anniversaries, birthdays) will be collected if visitors opt-in for the full Magic+ experience. All this will be tracked to the bracelet, to one source, Disney.

The main cost of this for the visitor is in personal privacy. With My Magic+, the aggregate of a visitor’s personal data will go into one big source rather than having been distributed amongst different technologies as it is at the moment.


Disney does know what visitors buy (computerized register) and could certainly, and likely, does, collect the aggregate of that. What they don’t do is track people’s precise movements and interactions. A mobile phone might keep track of it’s owner via GPS as they move around, but currently that information is owned by their carrier. Ride specifics might be spotty depending on how a visitor paid, what sort of pass they have, and if they’re using old tickets or not, etc.

With My Magic+, Disney will circumvent the cell phones and credit card data, combining them into one private Big Data database. The credit card company knows the visitor made transactions at the park, and a phone knows roughly where a visitor was, but via My Magic+, Disney will know the specific details of what was bought or ate, when, where a visitor went, and to some extent, whom they interacted with on the Disney staff.

The aggregate of all that data of full human interaction will be private to Disney.

This is a most clever hack: Disney circumvents the platform of the mobile phone app world, and owns the entire data story. For privacy, this is troubling. If there are distributed bits and pieces of data around that isn’t being fully aggregated, there is some protection as things don’t necessarily fully overlap. In the case of My Magic+, a complete story of a visitor’s daily interaction pattern is now logged in one place and owned by Disney.

Disney’s main claim is that My Magic+ will be convenient for visitors and close up line bottlenecks on rides.

However, what is efficient for Disney is at the same time inefficient for their visitors: a big breach of privacy with fairly creepy implications.

Disney’s brilliance is in circumventing the mobile market to get access to the full data collection of all visitor interactions, locations and transactions.


At the moment, the system is opt-in.

Who knows how long it will be before we’re all wearing bands from every venue we attend?

©2013-2014 Sally A. Applin. All rights reserved.

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Watch Out, City Boys are Goin’ Mobile

by Sally Applin 

The headline in the London news a few weeks ago was “Tube bosses angered by City Boy craze of attaching Oyster Card chips to their watches.”  It went on to say that “The new fad allows commuters to swipe their wristwatches on ticket barrier and top-up machines–without having to fumble in pockets to find their travel cards.”

I think this is a marvelous example of “innovation in context.” These City Boys aren’t doing anything illegal–they’ve bought their cards and paid the fare. What they have done, is shortened the bottleneck in their process of commuting. Instead of being angry–Tube bosses should be thrilled. They have the opportunity to create a faster commute for people. 

In fact, the Tube bosses themselves did a pilot study last year with 500 “Oyster Card” wristwatch prototypes. The flaw there, is in making someone buy something issued by them. The brilliance in what the City Boys have done, is they retain their own style, but soup up their commute.

Japan seems to be way ahead of the West again with this technology. People have been able to flash their cell phones for train fare for a long time now. It works well.  The phones in Japan do way more than they do in the West with regards to commerce, travel and communication–why is the West so…slow?

I applaud the City Boys. They have figured out a way to make their commute faster, without losing their personal style. 

If I were the Tube office, I’d collect them all and bring them in for a fully catered focus group.

Trend: its all Goin’ Mobile. With high fuel prices, mobility is the new status. Look for all things to be as mobile and tiny. We’re channeling our nomadic roots and catering for them with as much innovation as possible.

 

©2008-2014 Sally A. Applin. All rights reserved.