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Walt Disney World introduces new RFID gate system


*Correction Notice: An earlier version of this story misstated that passholders can now register biometrics to bypass lines, though in actuality, the park has been using biometrics to verify the identity of passholders for quite some time. What’s new is the RFID cards and upgraded gate system. Clarification of the new system has been added to this piece.

Walt Disney World is in the midst of introducing a new gate system at the park which uses cards with RFID chips and fingerprint biometrics.

According to a report in the Examiner, the theme park was previously using this RFID technology, but it was only available to those staying at the park.

In the 1990s, the park introduced fingerprint geometry scanners to verify ticket holders, though they have since been upgraded with fingerprint scanners.

In a 2006 Associated Press report from The Boston Globe, at the time the fingerprint scanners were first introduced, a spokesperson for the theme park said that scanned information is stored separately and that after 30 days, or a fully-utilized ticket, unique data is purged from the system.

A spokesperson at Walt Disney World has confirmed to BiometricUpdate.com that the new system is being put in place, and will replace the existing turnstile system and the paper passes previously used by passholders.

Under the new system, passholders can exchange their paper ticket for a new plastic card with an RFID chip inside.

The chip is intended to make entering the park or boarding rides a simpler process, and this new card will also contain passholders’ biometric data, pre-registered in the system.  When reaching a gate, passholders tap their card and then place their finger on the scanner to verify identity.

The spokesperson from Walt Disney World was also adamant to say that fingerprints are not stored in the database, rather a unique numerical sequence derived from passholders’ original fingerprint scan is stored and used for verification.

This morning, Jason Hodge, VP at Securlinx, posted his thoughts on the purpose of the system and believes it has to do with pass-sharing and the bottom line.

“It’s my impression that Disney does this mostly for the purposes of making sure that discounted longer-term passes aren’t shared among different individuals. It’s not hard, however, envisioning that this might point the way toward future security applications.”

A recent Biometric Research Note suggests that fingerprint technology is the most established and widespread form of biometrics, and will dominate the residential and commercial security product marketplace. The Biometric Research Group projects that fingerprint technology will represent US$3 billion of revenue within the residential and commercial security product marketplace by 2017.

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