Disney Nabs Patent For Foot-Tracking Technology It Could Someday Use In Its Parks

Image courtesy of U.S Patent and Trademark Office

A very blond man once said, “Every step you take, I’ll be watching you.” Perhaps Disney had that song in mind when it secured a patent for technology that can track not only the steps of its park visitors, but will match those movements to an image of each person’s shoe.

Gathering information in this way about which rides are the most popular and which routes visitors take the most often from “ride to ride” will let Disney create “a customized guest experience,” Disney Co. says in its patent application.

Sensors and cameras would be used to help identify visitors: the sensors would keep track of where you travel while the cameras would snap a photo of your foot to match the two together.

“The method also includes generating a first foot model using the first foot shape and the first foot appearance and tagging the first foot model with the guest data,” the patent explains. “The foot model can be used to identify a particular guest and the guest data can be used to output a customized guest experience to the guest.”

So, perhaps Disney notices that you keep having to run to the bathroom and suggests a nearby vendor selling electrolyte-filled drinks.

Disney seems to think this is less creepy than other methods: right now, technology that tracks guests and matches them up with some identifying characteristic “are limited to rather invasive methods, such as retinal and fingerprint identification methods,” the patent reads. “These methods are obtrusive and some guests may not feel comfortable providing this type of biometric information to a third party.”

Lest you’re afraid that Disney will start taking pictures of your feet for some foot database, the company says there currently aren’t any plans to use the technology in any of its theme parks.

“In our ongoing effort to relentlessly innovate and push the boundaries of creativity and technology to create immersive experiences and legendary guest service, we file many patents annually — some come to fruition and others do not,” a Disney spokeswoman told the Los Angeles Times.

This wouldn’t be the first time Disney has tracked its guests, far from it: the company keeps tabs on visitors who use MagicBands, bracelets that use RFID and act as theme-park tickets, FastPasses to skip ride lines, hotel keys, and credit cards.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.