NextGen RFID, it begins…

NextGen RFID, it begins…

**Update!  Check out this cool RFID posts from WDW Magic.**

An RFID entry system has been in testing at Epcot’s main entrance instead of turnstiles.  Radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology is something we use every day here in Boston – its in the Fastlane toll transponder, my Zipcar Card, and the MBTA Charliecard.  In 2006 RFID tags were included in the new US passports.  Its also the same technology we are familiar with for Contactless Payment, keyless entry, livestock and inventory tagging, and pet identification.

RFID technologies have largely been used for the purpose of  tracking physical assets.  Disney is looking at new ways of utilizing this technology to enhance the Disney experience in their NextGen project.

Disney is already using RFID in other ways such as for refillable mugs and plan to use it in their Disney Stores as a means of making the shopping experience more interactive.

Computer chips embedded in packaging will activate hidden features. Walk by a ‘magic mirror’ while holding a princess tiara, for instance, and Cinderella might appear and say something to you.”

The RFID tags are called “passive” tags (those without a battery) and can be read if passed within close enough proximity to an RFID reader.  Tags can be three-tenths square millimeters, or as invisible as a grain of sand.  Readers can be mobile or stationary and they vary in size and power; they use radio waves to scan tags for the data they possess.  Readers could be imbedded in tiles, carpeting, and doorways, in addition to what I assume will be attractions. They can scan tags at a distance, through purses, shopping bags, and even walls.  RFID tags can be read hundreds at a time.

In the case of park entry the RFID tag was a sticker placed on the park pass. The reader is shown below and also includes a finger scanner. This leads me to believe they aren’t going to use this for “mass entrances” reading hundreds of tickets at a time which makes sense because logistically I don’t know how you would catch those without a valid ticket.

Knowing what the RFID technology can do can lead to many interactive experiences.  Remember when ET says your name at Universal?  What if Peter Pan said goodbye to you when you leave Neverland?!  Other elaborate ideas about how RFID technology will be used in the parks has been discussed but with a $1 Billion investment in the project its sure to be a game changer.  As long as its not used to track the number of shameless trips I make to the Germany buffet table I think I can get into it.

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