Disney World demonstrates the city of the future with contactless Magicbands

Disney resorts are world renowned for the gravity-defying feats of engineering that populate their theme parks.  With the introduction of Magicbands, they are leading the way in another area of innovation, paving the way for the cities of our future. 

Since launching in 2013, Disney has pioneered their MagicBand technology, bringing the magic of Disney World to your fingertips with just a wave of the hand.  Visitors to the Magic Kingdom can purchase the colourful rubber wristbands online, and each contains a high frequency radio device.  Tiny but powerful, the antenna transmits a signal more that 40ft in any direction.

Specialised local sensors or ‘touch points’ around the resort can then pick up these radio signals. At the wave of a hand, holiday makers are granted instant access to hotel rooms, theme parks, rides, and even dinner reservations.

By linking the smart band to a credit card, they are used in lieu of cash or cards for any purchases made within the park, making payments quick, easy and efficient.

In addition to the short-range sensors, long-range readers can detect the smart bands anywhere in the park.  These can then deliver personalised experiences and monitor the flow of visitors through Disney World.

The bands are connected to an online experience booking site, where guests can make dinner reservations, and even pre-order their food.  Receivers register the long-range signals, alerting waiting staff to a families arrival before they even get to the door.  As if by magic, their food is then brought directly to their table, wherever they are sitting.

In a world of wearable tech, innovations like the MagicBand and its radio frequency identification (RFID) technology pave the way to help the cities of the future to function seamlessly.  With similar technologies, people can already enter the underground system, travel on busses and pay for their lunch with the tap of a card or watch.

Always looking towards improving the existing technologies, innovators behind the Magicband have paired with Disney Research in Pittsburgh.  Their goal now is to implant similar RFID devices into toys, or ‘Shakables’, allowing them to securely connect with each other and form an interactive, on-screen story.  The player in the outside world controls the action, directing their very own live movie.

Apple watch and Magicband at Epcot” by Benjamin Thompson is licensed under CC By 2.0.

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