What Disney World is Doing with RFID and the Future of Events

March 10 2016

Disney World, the most magical place on earth, just became a little more magical. Starting in late 2014, Disney World experimented with the use of MagicBands, RFID wristbands that connect you with your experience at Disney World. Entering your hotel room, getting fast pass tickets, purchasing lunch, and storing your photos is now as easy as tapping your arm to a scanner and you’re done.

The MagicBand defragments aspects of the event experience and combines them into one friendly, hard-to-lose wristband. Disney is one of the first major corporations to make significant breakthroughs in the way we experience live events by effectively bringing events up-to-date with this latest use of technology - in what has otherwise been a slow-to-adapt industry.

By condensing credit cards, hotel keys, park tickets, and even allowing your location at  restaurants to be triangulated through the wristband, the whole live event experience is transformed into a user friendly experience. The Disney World experience becomes more enjoyable and stress free as the MagicBand eliminates any worries of misplacing items while at the theme park. The user experience for the MagicBand proves to be overwhelmingly positive as 90 percent of MagicBand users rate their experiences with them as excellent or very good, a major hit by any measure. The high ratings send a message to other live experience creators: incorporate technology into your events or get left behind.

MagicBands RFID Disney World

Image via babygizmo.com

The use of RFID throughout Disney World was no small bet, costing Disney World $1 billion in the hopes that the MagicBand leads to better experiences and more purchases, and so far it has. Disney World has paved the way for what is just the first step in an improved live event experience.

As technology continues to advance and events are built around individual experiences, this type of technology will spread rapidly, bringing a breath of fresh air to an industry that hasn’t changed much in the last twenty years. It won’t be long before other major corporations and events start using 21st century technology at their events to improve the experience of attendees.

Would it really be surprising to see all large scale events adopt RFID, NFC, or NFMI wristbands for all of their needs? Not with the results Disney World has seen. Technologies like these are just the first steps in creating a new event experience, bringing a whole new set of possibilities to events in the future by personalizing each attendee’s experience. In the future, events will fully incorporate technology as its benefits will greatly enhance live experiences, even amid the costs. Here are some predictions for what events will look like in 2020. 

  1. The Internet of Things will be actively working at events.

    The Internet of Things is the idea of putting sensors in just about all applications, such as TVs, computers, phones, fridges, speakers, and more. When all of these devices have sensors in them, they can actively communicate and exchange information with each other simply based on proximity or other sensory inputs. 

    Because the IoT doesn’t require you to opt-in and manually allow exchanges of information, it can change events in the future by enabling proximity based communication. 

    Imagine you are walking around a convention center at a trade show, and you walk towards a display that recognizes that you are near, and automatically starts presenting a demo. You decide to move on from the exhibit, it stops playing, and offers you an unbeatable offer that you cannot beat. 

    Or imagine yourself at a concert or festival where the Internet of Things connects you to an interactive game, gives you discounts to restaurants or more. Imagine the Internet of Things connecting you to a drone overhead that can take your photo and send it directly to your device to share on social media. The Internet of Things can connect and enhance any event, and marketers are left to imagine and create the possibilities at events.

  2. NFMI will make events personalized.

    Near Field Magnetic Induction (NFMI) is a technology similar to NFC, but which can communicate at further distances than NFC. Think of all the wearable technology you carry on your person at all times - a smartphone, smartwatch, fitbit, headphones and other devices. Now, imagine all of those devices talking with each other, sending each other information and relaying it back to you, the event attendee. 

    Your wearable technology will tell you when you need to get a drink, go sit down, move around, etc. Technology will inform you on how to make sure you are having the best personal experience at events. 

    NFMI technology will enable you to easily share information with your neighbor as well. If somebody is within close proximity to you, NFMI technology will easily share photos, coupons, etc. with the person next to you. Imagine that you get a coupon from a food truck at a festival, and it encourages you to share that coupon with the person next to you. 

    NFMI will also have the ability to recognize when too many devices are using wifi or Bluetooth and can automatically switch to NFMI so that the airways aren’t cluttered with radio frequencies interfering with each other.

    MagicBands at DisneyWorld - Walletless Pay
    Image via PCmag.com
     

  3. You won't have to miss a minute of the action.

    With RFID, sensors will be able to triangulate your location anywhere you are in the venue. Imagine ordering a pizza at a basketball game and never having to leave your seat to go and get it because it will be brought directly to you. An image of you along with your seat number and live location tracker will be sent to the concession stand where they will swiftly bring out your order so you don’t miss a minute of the action. 

    RFID will take customer service to a whole new level at events. Employees will welcome you by name to their food stand, to the concert, and will know if you have any special requests. With these new technologies, event organizers will be able to ask specific questions at during online registration and will be able to cater directly to your needs. 

    Disney World is already doing it. Imagine listing your allergies, your preferences, and other important information before as you purchase your tickets online. This information will provide event organizers with information to help them shape their even the best way for their unique audience. Events will be data driven. For example, pretend that before an event, you request that you want a pizza delivered to you at a specific time. Once you enter the venue, the pizza makers will be notified that you have entered the concourse and will start preparing your pizza to be delivered at the correct moment. RFID will make this all possible.

  4. Walletless pay will be fully integrated.

    NFC, NFMI, and RFID make payment easier than it’s ever been before. As these technologies expand and improve and as people keep upgrading their phones and watches, your wallet will become obsolete. Your ID, credit card, or debit card information will be on your smartphone and smartwatch, making payment and access into venues a seamless experience.

    With the adoption of NFC technology into smartphones, event attendees tickets, IDs, and payment information will be stored in their devices. This can correctly identify individuals as they enter the venue, and make them easy to contact in case of emergency.  

 

RFID, Bluetooth, NFC, and NFMI will shape the user experience at events in the near future. The adoption of these technologies at events is already starting to take place and in a few years they will be more readily available. These technologies will enable better security, faster lines, location marketing, real time marketing, social sharing, and more. What Disney is doing now is just the beginning for improving the event experience, incorporating the timeless joy of attending your favorite concert mixed with the conveniences technology can provide.

 

Featured photo via Disney