Disney Patents Foot Recognition Tech to Step Up Customer Experience

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We are 14 years from Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report and yet the kind of personalized customer recognition technology imagined in the film’s shopping mall and Gap store scenes has yet to materialize. But a new Disney patent puts us one step closer to that reality. Pun intended.

But first, consider US Patent No. 9,393,697, recently awarded to Disney for “a system and method for creating a customized guest experience at an amusement park.” More specifically that system will rely on guests’ feet as visitors navigate a Disney park:

“In one example, the method includes capturing by a foot sensor a first foot shape corresponding to at least one foot in a pair of feet of a guest and capturing by a camera a first foot appearance corresponding to at least one foot in the first pair of feet receiving guest data from the guest. The method also includes generating a first foot model using the first foot shape and the first foot appearance and tagging the first foot model with the guest data. The foot model can be used to identify a particular guest and the guest data can be used to output a customized guest experience to the guest.”

The application of the technology—a customized guest experience—is not a new idea. Any regular casino patron today knows the value of one’s “club card” and the benefits and custom experience the loyalty card makes possible. But that is a proactive process, necessitating constant use of the card over time.

Foot-recognition technology could conceivably curate a guest experience based on no-effort, passive participation. In addition to a scan upon entry, the foot-reader patent describes robots touring the park to “scan users’ feet as they progress through the attractions to gather customer data about the popularity of different areas of the park.”

It’s a fanciful concept and good for headlines—but Disney says it has no immediate plans for the patented tech. However, the patent is more evidence that Disney is laser-focused on personalizing the guest experience. Walt Disney World already operates a customized MagicBand program, its hugely successful wearable tech platform.

Disney MagicBand

The personalized wrist band uses radio frequency technology and sensors throughout the Disney park experience to recognize a guest and his or her pre-set preferences, speed up admissions, program their schedules, “pay” for photos with characters and other perks.

Already customizable with  character jibbets and other embellishments, the bands are now attracting other brands—such as a new limited time (summer 2016 only) collection from Dooney & Bourke—so users can bring their individual style to the smart bracelets.

The My Disney Experience app has also just introduced “Get Directions” navigation to make getting around the parks easier and more enjoyable. The new GPS navigational tool delivers turn-by-turn walking directions and valuable transportation information right to your mobile device.

And with Pokemon Go making augmented reality mainstream (there are already 60 PokeStops in its parks), Disney is also rushing in to leverage augmented reality to improve guest experiences. Outside its parks, Disney is looking at Pokemon-style AR for its Marvel and Star Wars attractions, enabling the “blending of physical and digital to create new kinds of connected play experiences.”

lincoln

Disney is not the only brand that sees customized experiences, digital savvy and a seamless customer journey as the future of brand engagement. Automakers, too, have been quick to get in to personalized brand engagement.

Lincoln just opened its Lincoln Experience Center on Fashion Island in California, following a flagship brand experience center that opened last year in Shangahi. Meanwhile, Porsche Experience Centers in Shanghai and beyond and the new Cadillac House in New York are letting visitors immerse themselves in each auto brand’s bespoke luxurious experience.

And ahead of Disney’s biometric feet program is Norwegian Air. The carrier’s “Aura Reader” contest will read travelers’ auras—pink, orange, yellow, green or blue—and then suggest a destination on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner based on that aura. For example, those with studious yellow auras may be matched with a museum-heavy destination like London. Bon Voyage!

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