Magic Bands: How Disney Revolutionized Hospitality Through IoT

Households, companies, and cities are embracing physical minimalism through the internet of things. Whether it be using a tablet with a stylus instead of a notebook to avoid paper clutter or a smart speaker to add items to your calendar without even picking up a pen, combining the power of combining multiple devices into one is a positive feature of the internet of things. In 2013 Walt Disney World made a 1 billion dollar gambit on Internet of Things technology with the aforementioned premises in mind. They streamlined all of their processes such as booking, hotels, ticketing, FastPasses, and merchandise into one colorful wristband called a Magic Band and a companion app titled “My Disney Experience.”

Through the “My Disney Experience” app, the user sets up their Disney World vacation entirely from their phone, including guests attending, hotel choice, duration of stay, and FastPass planning. As the trip approaches, Disney takes this data and compiles it into a database with a unique identifier for each guest. This aforementioned unique identifier is placed onto a colorful Magic Band bracelet. The bracelet has an HF radio frequency device built in it that allows it to send and receive radio frequency (RF) signals. Multiple RF points exist throughout the Walt Disney World complex including hotels, FastPass queues for attractions, and shops/restaurants. These points use the unique guest ID stored on the Magic Band to access the database containing relevant park information to verify a requested action. These actions could range from entry to your hotel room, buying Mickey Ears and dinner, or entering the FastPass line at your assigned time slot. Upon this verification, the device allows or denies the requested action depending on the information stored in the database.

This technology allows for one device to cover the actions of multiple, and reduces the amount of items needed to be brought into the park during the guest’s stay. The Magic Band effectively acts as a room key, a park ticket, a FastPass, and a debit card all at the same time, and allows these separate items to be securely fastened to a wrist (which is valuable in a crowded theme park). In 2017, I got to utilize this technology on a trip with my high school’s marching band. Through the capabilities of the Magic Band, I could leave my valuables in the hotel safe and didn’t have to worry about my debit card or park ticket being stolen. It also made queuing for attractions and hotel entry more streamlined. This allowed me to immerse myself into the incredible theming of the Disney parks and truly enjoy the happiest place on Earth.

References:

https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/faq/my-disney-experience/frequency-technology/

https://www.wired.com/2015/03/disney-magicband/

 

 

 

Mi.Mu Gloves: Controlling Music Through the Internet of Things

Whether it be a crock pot that is can be controlled through WiFi and an app on your phone or a shirt that can keep track of your heart rate and workout stats, the internet of things is creating a reality where the gap between physical and virtual space is closing. Whether this be good or bad to some, it cannot be denied that this movement in technology and networking has created some innovative and incredible devices.

One such device is the Mi.Mu gloves, conceptualized by British musician Imogen Heap. Through linking multiple sensors through a WiFi connection, the gloves can act as a musical instrument through live gesture and tactile input. The sensors measure the bend of the fingers, positioning/angle of the hand and send this the information to a dedicated software titled Glover, which interprets the data in terms of pitch, yaw, and roll. This means that the position of the user’s fingers, hands, and the angle of their wrist can correspond with a certain gesture that influences the sound. Glover can be setup with third-party digital audio workstations and can quite literally place complex composition tools in the palm of your hand. In the video below, Imogen Heap shows some of the gestures, such as gentle sweeps of the hands to control effects and filters or a vertical swipe to delete the composition made. This demonstration leads to a performance of her song “Hide and Seek” where she uses entirely gestures to loop, adjust the pitch, and apply effects and filters to microphone input to create a swirling choir out of one voice (Starting at time 9:19).

Through the technology of internet of things, Heap and Mi.Mu have created a truly unique music creation device that allows for natural input to fuse with the digital world, making digital music production feel more dynamic and grounded in the real world. I feel like innovations like these are positive examples of IoT technology, as they connect the tangible world with the virtual to improve productivity without being a creepy invasion of the user’s privacy. I believe that more inventors and companies should take note of the concept of these gloves and use human physiology and psychology to improve how we interact with technology and how technology interacts with us.

References:

www.mimugloves.com

Dark Patterns: Web Design That Deceives

In this current era of web and app development, there exists a higher standard for a human-friendly user experience. In order to accomplish this, developers use psychology to layout their applications in a way that aligns with habitual behavior while navigating not only the internet, but the world around us. For the most part, this has resulted in digital experiences that are smooth, elegant, and easy to navigate, but there exists a movement that uses these same principles for deceitful purposes.

In response to these aforementioned designs, Harry Brignull, a British user experience designer with a doctorate in cognitive science, coined the term “Dark Pattern,” which he describes as “tricks in websites and apps that make you do things that you don’t want to do, like buying or signing up for something” (Brignull). He created his own website, “darkpatterns.org,” in order to call out companies that use this deceptive design language. There are many various dark patterns in existence that trick users in various ways, whether it be popups that make someone turn off their adblocker or an ad disguised as an element on the site it is hosted on. However, I’d like to focus on completely different design, as depicted in the below image from “uxdesign.cc.”

When signing up for a certain online service, it is very common to see an box to opt into an email list for that company. Sky, the company in question, is very aware of this trend and how people have become used to ignoring the box so their inbox doesn’t get flooded with promotional emails. Therefore, they make the user have to check the box to opt out of their email list service instead of opting in. Though it is just for an email list and not something incredibly drastic like a premium subscription, Sky has done something quite devious. Since they know how the user typically behaves with an opt-in check box, they deliberately went against human habits to trick them into signing up for their mailing list. This falls under the category of dark patterns Brignull describes as a “bait and switch” when the user “[sets] out to do one thing, but a different, undesirable thing happens instead” (Brignull). In this case, the user wanted to opt out of the email list by ignoring the check box, but instead got opted in.

Since dark patterns are about as new as the psychological-centered design and development movement itself, it’s hard to say what the future holds for them. In an internet where certain corporations try to extract as much personal information from their users as possible in order to create curated advertisements, UX designers could come up with more subtle and intricate ways to manipulate people into making decisions that they otherwise may not be comfortable making. However, I have faith that activism and policy could work to solve this issue in many countries and will allow this era of design to work as intended: elegant, streamlined, and psychologically friendly.

Sources:

https://www.darkpatterns.org/types-of-dark-pattern

https://uxdesign.cc/dark-patterns-in-ux-design-7009a83b233c

https://www.darkpatterns.org/