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Old 05-01-2013, 08:01 PM   #1
HootDad
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RFID - passive or active?

Hi all,

So, I was listening to a WDW podcast (not the DIS - sorry...) and one of the folks on the show did a quick description of the RFID technology used in the new wristbands. As I listened I talked back to my iPod because what he described is an "active" RFID technology, while I always assumed Disney used "passive" (quick distinction - "active" broadcasts a signal, "passive" does not). Anyway someone actually wrote in and corrected him but this got me thinking...

First, I looked up pictures of the bands online to confirm they are passive as I suspect they are. To my surprise, they look like they could be active, not passive. I'm still pretty sure they aren't if only because active tags are more expensive and burdensome. BTW, what I am referring to here is that active tags would be a bit thicker - passive tags could be as thin as a piece of cardboard. But the wristbands look to have some thickness to them.

So, you may ask, who cares? The reason this would be interesting is that, if the tags are active, this opens up interesting possibilities. Now, the main reason for using active tags is so you can track their movement. So... if Disney were using active tags, this would indicate an interest in tracking movement. So, does anyone know for a fact that the tags are passive? Like I said, I assume they are, but it is an interesting question.
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Old 05-01-2013, 09:12 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HootDad View Post
Hi all,

So, I was listening to a WDW podcast (not the DIS - sorry...) and one of the folks on the show did a quick description of the RFID technology used in the new wristbands. As I listened I talked back to my iPod because what he described is an "active" RFID technology, while I always assumed Disney used "passive" (quick distinction - "active" broadcasts a signal, "passive" does not). Anyway someone actually wrote in and corrected him but this got me thinking...

First, I looked up pictures of the bands online to confirm they are passive as I suspect they are. To my surprise, they look like they could be active, not passive. I'm still pretty sure they aren't if only because active tags are more expensive and burdensome. BTW, what I am referring to here is that active tags would be a bit thicker - passive tags could be as thin as a piece of cardboard. But the wristbands look to have some thickness to them.

So, you may ask, who cares? The reason this would be interesting is that, if the tags are active, this opens up interesting possibilities. Now, the main reason for using active tags is so you can track their movement. So... if Disney were using active tags, this would indicate an interest in tracking movement. So, does anyone know for a fact that the tags are passive? Like I said, I assume they are, but it is an interesting question.
They are definitely active. They are going to track movement. The broadcast signals will be picked up by receptors all over wdw including resorts and restaurants and parks. The broadcast signal will also trigger interactive queue elements and new ride enhancements.

Its a small world might put your name up on the goodbye signs, scuttle could call your name, and other options.

You can read all about it in the articles I have collected at the link in my signature.
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Old 05-01-2013, 09:29 PM   #3
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definitely active

As someone very conscious of privacy I've been reading/watching the information/speculation/etc. come out and then folks responses. Quite interesting. Remember, some posts speak to Disney spending upwards of almost 3/4 billion dollars on the various components of this. So you gotta realize to make that up over time it'll be more than just making it easier for people to enter parks, charge items, etc. Sure, I do some Facebook myself, and use some GPS on my phone, so I'm part of the world that is giving away some information but hope folks ultimately realize what could happen.

I've speculated those "spontaneous" events popping up in parks will be tied into the eventual FP+ so they can help drive more traffic to projected smaller parks.

As long as people further realize how powerful this will be when it works. Standing at a certain display stand for 2 minutes and then deciding to buy or not buy something could all be logged. Lingering at some type of display could result in getting an advertisement a month after you get home for a certain product.

This isn't to be a downer since we'll enjoy the Magic but just hope everyone eventually realizes what's going on.
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Old 05-01-2013, 09:34 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AladdinToMy4YO View Post
As someone very conscious of privacy I've been reading/watching the information/speculation/etc. come out and then folks responses. Quite interesting. Remember, some posts speak to Disney spending upwards of almost 3/4 billion dollars on the various components of this. So you gotta realize to make that up over time it'll be more than just making it easier for people to enter parks, charge items, etc. Sure, I do some Facebook myself, and use some GPS on my phone, so I'm part of the world that is giving away some information but hope folks ultimately realize what could happen.

I've speculated those "spontaneous" events popping up in parks will be tied into the eventual FP+ so they can help drive more traffic to projected smaller parks.

As long as people further realize how powerful this will be when it works. Standing at a certain display stand for 2 minutes and then deciding to buy or not buy something could all be logged. Lingering at some type of display could result in getting an advertisement a month after you get home for a certain product.

This isn't to be a downer since we'll enjoy the Magic but just hope everyone eventually realizes what's going on.
One can choose to disable it, but then not have access to the interactive queues, games, special surprises, bonus fastpasses, and fastpass +. Who will choose to disable? Not many.
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Old 05-01-2013, 10:19 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HootDad View Post
Hi all,

So, I was listening to a WDW podcast (not the DIS - sorry...) and one of the folks on the show did a quick description of the RFID technology used in the new wristbands. As I listened I talked back to my iPod because what he described is an "active" RFID technology, while I always assumed Disney used "passive" (quick distinction - "active" broadcasts a signal, "passive" does not). Anyway someone actually wrote in and corrected him but this got me thinking...

First, I looked up pictures of the bands online to confirm they are passive as I suspect they are. To my surprise, they look like they could be active, not passive. I'm still pretty sure they aren't if only because active tags are more expensive and burdensome. BTW, what I am referring to here is that active tags would be a bit thicker - passive tags could be as thin as a piece of cardboard. But the wristbands look to have some thickness to them.

So, you may ask, who cares? The reason this would be interesting is that, if the tags are active, this opens up interesting possibilities. Now, the main reason for using active tags is so you can track their movement. So... if Disney were using active tags, this would indicate an interest in tracking movement. So, does anyone know for a fact that the tags are passive? Like I said, I assume they are, but it is an interesting question.
Yes they are definitely active. The bands are supposed to send out signals to many different places. For example the bands are supposed to send out your name to characters during greeting so Cinderella can say hi Johnny! Also its used as your room key and so many other things so you don't have to use other things this will be your one and only key to the "world".

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Old 05-01-2013, 10:51 PM   #6
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They are passive and I have used Disney's RFID system. You have to get within about 3/8 " of the reader to be able to open your room door and same thing with the readers throughout the parks. That's passive technology. The Disney RFID has an extremely limited range. They don't send out data anywhere but to those readers. The character gets the name from the single code that's on the RFID chip (there is nothing else) when you tap the reader at the character spot. The FP reader for a ride will read the code and the Disney mainframes will send back a response of whether that RFID tag is within the time limits of return.

It's all tap a reader, the reader reads the code on the chip, the reader queries the servers, and then acts on the authorizations assigned to that code. All, short range passive.
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Old 05-02-2013, 07:36 AM   #7
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If the RFID devices were active they would require a battery. It seems to me that Disney would provide a method for changing the battery otherwise these bands would be disposable. I realize the cost for one of these bands does render them disposable, but what if you wanted to get a custom band and reuse it. Some might find it upsetting there princess band has to be thrown away after a year of use.
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Old 05-02-2013, 11:22 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tuvalox View Post
If the RFID devices were active they would require a battery.

This is true and it's the main difference between passive and active.

Even then, passive tags can be read from 15 feet or more, which is more than enough for Disney to get the information that they want wherever they want with enough readers. In the long run it would be much cheaper to install more readers and use cheaper passive tags than fewer readers with the more expensive active tags.

I would also assume that Disney would only want to monitor traffic through certain areas. Monitoring every guest at every point in the park would be information overload. The information that they would want to gather would be very specific but they would gather that information on a grand scale. They could easily accomplish that with passive tags and readers positioned in the area where they want feedback.

For example, if they wanted to know how many people eat lunch and then attend an indoor show. They could have readers positioned near the eating areas and then others positioned near the entrances to buildings. It wouldn't track your path from the restaurant to the show but it would show that you were at a restaurant and then at another specific place 20 minutes later.

Something like that would be more important to them than seeing how people made their way through the park and could be easily accomplished with passive rfid.
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Old 05-02-2013, 11:49 AM   #9
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I don't see a downside. I'm happy to have the extra magic, and I don't mind Disney collecting data about my Disney habits. They will generally use this data to improve my experience.

When I go home, the magic band comes off.
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Old 05-02-2013, 01:04 PM   #10
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According to the FCC application for the Magic Bands they are both Active and Passive.

They contain passive UHF and HF RFID tags as well as an active 2.4 Ghz transmitter which is powered by an internal, non-replacable battery.

I would presume that the passive will be used to payment, FastPass, room key etc, and the active will be used for things like interaction in a ride like is planned for Small World.


https://apps.fcc.gov/oetcf/eas/repor...427834&fcc_id=
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Old 05-02-2013, 01:10 PM   #11
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Will we start seeing guests with tin foil wrapped around their magic wrist bands?
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Old 05-02-2013, 01:39 PM   #12
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Will we start seeing guests with tin foil wrapped around their magic wrist bands?
From everything I've heard, guests will still be able to opt for a card instead of a band. The cards will have the passive tag only. Guests who are concerned about privacy may opt for the card under the understanding that they may miss out on some of the features made possible by the active transmitter.
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Old 05-02-2013, 01:54 PM   #13
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Will we start seeing guests with tin foil wrapped around their magic wrist bands?
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Old 05-02-2013, 02:13 PM   #14
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I am generally optimistic about this whole process, assuming it "works", but it is cautious optimism because I can certainly envision that the system could "crash" - and crash often - when it goes fully operational and the computers try to process all of this data, etc. And once Disney has the means to collect all of this potentially usefully data/marketing information, it will likely be very difficult for them to make the decision to turn some of it "off", even if the data overload results in poor overall system performance. And that's the problem with limited computer system rollouts- "funny" things just sort of "happen" when the system goes "live" and is pushed to near maximum capacity (or maybe it is not- maybe part of Disney's investment was to install "super duper duper big" computer servers and extra memory storage, to use my son's technical term.)
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Old 05-02-2013, 06:12 PM   #15
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I know the podcast you speak of They've already been corrected on the next show (amazingly, since it seems to take months for them to get to emails... Shhhh...they've been known to hang around here too... )

Just to help summarize and clarify:

MagicBands contain both active and passive RFID (two passive chips at different frequencies, in fact). They contain a non-replaceable battery to power the active transmitter. Presumably the battery is good for at least a year (to cover those with APs), and I've heard that they may have about a two-year nominal lifespan. In that regard. Even if the battery dies, it only affects aspects of MM+ that are triggered by it, and not any required functionality.

RFID cards, as are currently in use, are passive only.

The effective range of the active transmitter is said to be 15 feet.

The active transmitter is not the key to anything like making purchases, etc. - those would be restricted to the passive units. (presumably - not confirmed, but would be a foolish design otherwise...)

In all cases, the RFID device has NO PERSONAL INFORMATION. It only contains an ID number (three different ones, really). It does not transmit a name or anything like that. A receiving station needs to interface to Disney's Database of Everything (DDE) to look up relevant info (child's name, charging privileges, ticket entitlements, etc.) and do what is needed (relay it to the character, allow a purchase, etc.)

Skimming the IDs will not in itself represent a privacy breach, as without access to the DDE it is nothing more than numbers. At worst, someone might be able to make some small purchases on your account, but last I heard all purchases will also require a PIN. And if I was designing it, I'd require both of the passive IDs, which are read at different frequencies, to make a purchase. Makes skimming more complicated as you need to read both...
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