I recently spent a week at Walt Disney World, where I was issued, instead of a ticket, a wristband, and a glimpse into a few interesting applications of the “Internet of Things.”
This wristband served as my:
The credit card link made it easy to buy things on the property without having to carry my wallet (which was very convenient both for Disney and for getting a drink at the bar by the pool).
Once home, I decided to do a small dissection to see what I could see, similar to others before me.
This photo shows the RFID portion of the band, used for short distance identification. This
is the main way *I* used the band: to open my room door; to pay for things; to id myself at the gate (along with a fingerprint) so it could see I had a ticket.
There’s no actual data (other than an ID) on the wristband since they’re prone to loss or likely to be considered disposable. It’s just a way to identify you as you generate tons of data that is wirelessly collected and stored in WDW’s systems. Each user’s account is manageable via the web or via a convenient WDW smartphone app. It’s fairly clever as it lets you set daily spending limits on the individual wristbands, or disable spending all together.
This picture splits up the components to reveal the battery and the Low Energy Bluetooth chip (a Nordic Semiconductor NRF24LE). This is used for longer-distance…i.e. observation. For instance, if one of the Disney roving photographers happens to take your picture, your ID will be read and the pictures will be sent to your WDW account. Useful, if a bit creepy. Other info on the ‘net’ says that they have ‘listening posts’ at the gateways to the various areas of the park, in order to be able to get a rough census and thus some idea of crowd patterns in the park.
This convergence of hardware in the field, wireless connectivity, and apps and data in the cloud is an example of what’s possible with the “Internet of Things.”
Overall, it was incredibly convenient, and I must admit that my expectation of privacy
at a resort like WDW was fairly low, so I wasn’t too bothered wearing it.