Tag Archives: supply chain

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.

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.

“Classey-Lady” and Other Global Travels at the Mall

by Sally Applin

Last week, my friend and I went to check out the Giant Mall in Milpitas. We thought we’d take in the bargains and see what there was. The stores range from high end (Neiman Marcus Last Call and Saks Fifth Off) to low end–Steve & Barry’s, where everything was $8.98.

The first experience we had was at Steve & Barry’s. Steve & Barry’s has just filed for bankruptcy and the store really showed it. Many items weren’t where they were supposed to be. It was as if the store had suffered from some sort of wave that had pushed all the merchandise to a giant pile outside of the fitting room and swept the rest to the floor or the lower shelves. Most garments weren’t that well made, but there were a few things that were surprising. The womens’ jeans were cut superbly and had a great fit, the right amount of stretch and a nice dark wash. Everyone had figured this out who was under a size 14 because the smaller sizes were missing–except for those that had washed up by the dressing rooms, which is where I had found a pair in my size to try on.

I purchased a pair of extremely well made and durable Khaki shorts. The tag said that they were made in Kenya.  After flagging down a clerk to pay for the shorts, we left the shop.

As we traversed the mall, we noticed that there seemed to be a lot of those little carts that are in the middle of the walkways. The carts are rented out for a smaller sum than a retail floor space and have flourished in the past decade. They are a halfway point between brick & mortar and an online presence and are very common at malls these days.

We stopped at one cart because it featured a long plastic pad with fake rocks embedded in it, resembling a river bottom. (I could really diverge here and talk about that the environment is wrecked so badly that portable river bottoms are now being manufactured, but I’ll save that.) The New York Times had an article on these fake river bottoms recently and one of the things it had mentioned was that for older people, stone walking helped build balancing skills. I asked the woman who was minding the cart if she had read the article in the New York Times. She did not understand me. She nodded, but could not reply. My friend noticed that she sold cupping glasses, which are used for a type of massage therapy style treatment. My friend asked her how the cups work. The woman pointed to a sign in a foreign language with an English sentence that said something like “Cups for healthy lifesyle.”  I realized that it was no different from being overseas. The general language of commerce, minus the questions, is all that is necessary for a transaction. One doesn’t need to speak the language, if one can initiate and repeat the pattern. This cart reminded me of an online cart–for an online transaction. The system was the same, and just like online, there was no phone number to call or email address for questions. This fascinated me. Live, but virtual–all in one!

We continued to walk the perimeter of the mall. We came upon a shop called “Classey Lady” that had a large “50% OFF!!” sign displayed prominently in the doorway. My friend thought it was an ironic joke that the proprietors were in on. It wasn’t likely. It is more likely that as the cart was, the store was owned by someone without English skills, but who understood and had good connections with cheap manufacturing and could offer the clothes at a substantial discount.  Spelling didn’t matter–why not “Classey Lady,” indeed.

When I got home, I showed my husband, who has a background in supply-chain and manufacturing, that the shorts I’d purchased were from Kenya. He said something to the effect that it was interesting, and that he suspected it was still Asian/Indian manufacturing because they are so entrenched in the garment trade and that they have begun to purchase land and trade into Africa. He offered that it was purely a speculation on his part, but in a few hours, he’d mailed me an article that Steve & Barry’s clothing was made by Rising Sun (K) Epz. Ltd. 

I cannot source this company. Is “rising sun” a common term in Kenya? Is it part of the Indian garment manfacturing company called “Rising Sun Garments Pvt. Ltd.” or one of the nine or so Rising Suns sourced in China?

It just doesn’t seem that Kenya would develop this industry–one of the big garment manufacturers has not got to be “offshoring” to Kenya.

I have no evidence of this, but it makes sense. As countries that the US has “offshored” to, become prosperous–it becomes too expensive for them to do their own labor, so they are subcontracting to Kenya, to Thailand, to Korea, to Vietnam, etc…

Maybe this isn’t news.

Trend: The countries we offshore to must make so much money now that they have to offshore. What happens after Africa? Will people ever offshore back to us because we’ve become such a bargain?

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