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Disney proposes ‘concealed’ foot tracking for park visitors

Wed 27 Jul 2016

Disney foot tracking

Disney has been granted a patent for a proposed shoe recognition system, which would inconspicuously track guests’ feet around the theme parks and gather information on the popularity of rides, stores and shows.

A patent, filed in April last year and granted last week, describes a network of cameras and sensors which ‘blend’ in with the surroundings to scan visitors’ footwear on arrival, and track them as they move around the park.

A robot at the entrance area will include a foot sensor for capturing a detailed image of at least one foot of a guest, and a camera for capturing a colour image of at least one foot. Disney notes in the patent that these devices are ‘angled towards the ground’ and placed at a ‘low level’ (e.g., below a guest’s knees), and are therefore ‘easier to conceal’ from the guest. It continues that the system of sensors around the park would be ‘out of a person’s line of sight’, to ‘unobtrusively capture’ information.

Disney hopes that the data collected from the system will help improve park management and future planning. The patent states: ‘Acquiring and reacquiring guests at different locations in the amusement park can provide data to the amusement park owners, such as the most popular rides, and common guest paths from ride to ride.

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 10.49.49‘Additionally, recognizing individual guests or providing a method for an individual to register at certain rides or other attractions allows the amusement park to tailor certain experiences for the guest.’

Disney explains that tracking shoes is more effective than current scanning methods. It suggests that shoe styles vary widely in appearance and colour, which helps to reduce confusion in identifying a particular guest. When two people have the same or similar shoes, Disney says that the system can also use additional information, such as lower leg data, tread wear, and foot size to distinguish between guests.

The mass media giant adds that it has rejected other tracking technologies such as biometric scanning. It argues that techniques like retinal and fingerprint identification tend to be invasive, obtrusive, and inaccurate if guests are wearing certain accessories such as sunglasses or hats.

Concerned with guest awareness of tracking, Disney also neglected plans for overall clothing recognition as, ‘those systems require cameras that are visible to the person’. It said that clothing recognition can also produce unreliable results as many guests have similar attire, and will change their clothing throughout the day, such as putting on or taking off a jacket or jumper.

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