Disney’s Designing A Smart Watch That Knows What You’re Touching

Did you know Disney actually has a huge R&D subsidiary? It’s called Walt Disney Imagineering, and they’ve come up with some pretty interesting technology. They’re currently working on a smart watch interface called EM-Sense that uses an electromagnetic signal to detect and learn what the user is interacting with.

Basic machine learning allows the watch to learn what different devices “feel” like on an electromagnetic scale. It’s capable of detecting things you would expect, like appliances, power tools, and even electronic devices — but it’s apparently sophisticated enough to tell when you’re touching a door handle (and which one) depending on the structure and EM feedback!

They better explain the technology in the follow video, and demonstrate a use case for it where the smart watch can lead you through activities while giving you tutorials on skills you may need. Sounds like the beginning of a real-life PipBoy!

A user on Reddit points out how this could be used for real-life “cookie tracking” at Disney’s theme parks:

Imagine if they implemented this into their MagicBands at the parks. The current MagicBands already have long range RFID that could track where everyone is at the parks. Add this to it and now they know what you’re doing and what you’re touching.

“Hey, he picked up some Mickey ears on Main Street. Let’s send him a coupon for 10% off Mickey ears to see if they buy it”

“Tourist 2175890 just ate a hamburger, lets offer them some desert at our ice cream cart”

I can’t even begin to imagine how they could use all this data.

We guess the future really is here, huh…

[via r/futurology]

47 thoughts on “Disney’s Designing A Smart Watch That Knows What You’re Touching

      1. He has a point though, it excludes some implementations.

        Although.. you could use an extra wide band and wear it on your ankle, and I think that might hit the scene at some point, no socks but a 10K apple smartwatch on their ankle, never realizing they look like convicts with home-arrest.

        Perhaps some french fashion designer should get on that and slap it on some runway models.

        1. I think many islamic idiots think you can’t masturbate (actually incorrect according to islam I hear), so we know now he’s not a terrorist, let him pass through security, he’s OK.

        2. I bet 50 years ago people would have laughed if someone said when you go outside there will be camera’s watching you nearly everywhere you go. I’m not a tin-foil hat wearing chemtrail sniffer but it seems every now and then Governments have a new way to keep track of us citizens. It probably won’t be this though, I was using it as an example. they slowly turn new tech against us, Here in the UK the gov want to ban all encryption that works leaving only backdoored encryption available to the public.

          1. 50 years ago they were just doing the same job they are now, with less gear that cost more, but then again everyone was doing whatever with less gear that cost more. Nothing has changed in that relationship, except we *all* now have lots of cheap gear to help us do whatever.

  1. I can see such a product being used to determine what the “hot” sales items are. If they’re going to interface it with their magic band technology they could send fast pass bonuses to customers when ride times are slow. Lot of things they could do really.

    All in the pursuit of the almighty dollar. As long as I’m entertained, a dollar well spent.

    1. I am getting tired of reading all this childish Luddite paranoia. This from of technology enables you to be the same as a very wealthy person who has a polyglot personal assistant. If you were rich enough to have a person with you helping you all the time yo would still have to deal with trust issues and privacy, nothing has changed.

      Go and build an open sourced DIY version if you like, I may even give you some help if you display a more positive attitude,

        1. I was serious. I’d gladly help anyone with a positive attitude rather than read more of the paranoid whinging that HAD has become polluted with. What is the point of going on about how Company X could do Y to you? This is not whingeday.

          Did you realise that all these smart sensing projects are the same solution applied in different ways? Now if anyone wants to have a useful conversation and share knowledge about neural-nets and training them for this sort of application I’m all ears!

          1. >I was serious. I’d gladly help anyone with a positive attitude
            Fuq Disney, Fuq “Tracking Employee Efficiency Tech”, and Fuq your ideology & agenda, Thank you and have a nice day.

      1. If my private assignment went on the internet to report everything I do every 30 seconds He’d be sued and fired, and maybe I’d hire a guy to rough him up.
        That’s the issue you see, when you out this stuff in a ‘smart’ watch and then connect it to the phone it’ll keep a log and pushes that to the cloud masters, either voluntary or forced.

        A better comparison rather than ‘personal assistant’ would be a ‘personal north korean watcher’

        And you know what? I’m getting tired of it too, all the spying and all the ignoring of exposures and happily pretending all is well and ignoring it and then bitching if someone doesn’t take enough prozac to do the same.

        1. Oh and it’s damn frustrating, I like technology and it’s infuriating that now a lot is fucked up by that crap and I feel I can’t enjoy a lot of technology while I would so like to be able to.

          So your use of ‘Luddite’ is quite inappropriate
          Not to mention the ridiculous attempt to deny reality and use the word paranoia, when in fact we get daily reports on what is going on, freaking daily.

          1. You do not need to be paranoid about it, and paranoid is the right word because ultimately you have an irrational fear of authority and that is a sign of mental illness. You place an inflated importance on theoretical risks and obsess over possible threats to you when all you have to do is fearlessly go about your life applying common sense to what you do and you will be safer than 90% of the population. Take ownership of your personal data and if you share it be deliberate about it, don’t kid yourself that you should expect total privacy from closed products, just help to make open ones rather than ranting about what other people have to offer.

          2. You know what Dan? Denying reality is a sign of mental illness.
            Even when it becomes more and more common and accepted as the patients have taken to running the asylum all over the world.

        2. So tell me you plans for a FOSS version then, otherwise you are just adding to the noise. At least I have given people a hint as to who’s research papers they should take a look at.

          1. I did mention that it’s commercial versions you can’t trust, but now that we are reminded of the concept there’s no reason why hobbyists can’t use it, I mean it’s not too hard with current technology to do an FFT on a low frequency noise signal, so then it’s just getting the signal simplified enough to get a consistent hit on the same (but slightly different) signal.
            So what we need is some info on how it’s commonly done to simplify such a FFT trace and how to compare it, on a low-power MCU/CPU.

            And in that he was right incidentally, let”s talk about what WE (the people) can do with the idea, How to implement it, and what to best use it for as a normal person, not some government or advertising weasel.

      2. You live in a dreamland where your “you have nothing to worry about if you aint doing anything wrong” attitude rules supreme. You call it paranoia but governments freely admit they are watching what their citizens are doing, Their surveillance budgets go up every year, new laws enacted and secret courts to try you in. Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States actively collect internet data on all citizens to rifle through it when they feel like it and We are PARANOID? Not too mention they have never saved us from a terror attack as a result of their data collection. I’m sorry but my life is private and I’ll do anything to keep it that way as is my right. If you want too willingly hand over data that could be used against you at some point in the future that is your problem.

        1. Go and look up the medical definition of paranoid. Unlike some people here I have nothing to *fear*, most governments are a pain in the bum to deal with at times but they are way down on the list of groups that are likely to harm or disadvantage my family. I rationally assess the risks and the competency of those whom I am tasked to guide and protect, then I apply appropriate measures accordingly, without feeling like I need to pollute the web with fear-mongering rants.

          Do you know what the most dangerous thing you are likely to face in your life is? Stupidity, either your own or that of another individual person’s, not some deliberate act by any large organised group. It is this inability to appreciate realistic the scale of risks that makes you look paranoid.

  2. Actually, it appears they have a watch that’s a display and a sensor for the laptop attached to the actors belt. Still, it’s an interesting project and I’m looking forward to seeing practical uses for it.

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  4. I am a bit confused, they state that objects emit EM radiations (basically they are doing passive measurements).
    Ok for the computer, dremmel etc, but how does the door knob emits any radiation?

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