Tech Talk: Disney Hi-Tech Wristbands, Mobile Phone Hacks & Ford Drives “The Internet of Things”

Give Disney Visitors Hi-Tech Wristbands and They Spend More Money, How Your Cellphone Could Be Hacked In 2 Minutes Via Text Message, and Ford Joins “The Internet of Things”…

Disney Visitors Hi-Tech Wristbands

Staying one step ahead of the competition, Disney have added to their skill-set of “guest capture” — in this case, also “helping” them to spend more money at Disney theme parks. This time, it’s a high-tech electronic wrist-band that serves as an admission pass, room key, charge card, and FastPass / reservation assistant for rides and restaurants.

Disney’s MyMagic+ wristbands uses radio frequency identification (RFID) chips and collect loads of valuable trend data about the preferences of guests. Naturally this is a worry that the company already has far too much “consumer-controlling” – an internet post even went so far as to call the new system “Mickey Mouse‘s magic handcuffs.”

However, Disney has moved forward with the wristbands and in addition to getting the wearer through the turnstiles into a Walt Disney World park, the MyMagic+ bands do much more: “they can unlock a door at a Disney hotel. You can use tap them to buy concessions or souvenirs, order photos, and yes take the place of a FastPass to an attraction that lets you reduce the time you’d spend in a long line.” Guests can also use MagicBands to pay for meals at restaurants, book meet-and-greets with characters like Belle and Goofy, and even make reservations for a spot for your family to watch fireworks and parades.

Apparently select regular guests already started testing out the wristbands in Florida in late June, although Disney say this is still in “test-mode”. It’s easy to see how and why the wristbands translate to an upturn in spending patterns; it’s not just because the technology is novel; it also seems to succeed by eliminating hurdles that get in the way of guests spending money with as little hassle as possible.

Personally I look forward to getting mine in the style of Tony Stark’s from Avengers Assemble!

How Your Cellphone Could Be Hacked “In About Two Minutes” Via Text Message 

So, due to an encryption flaw in some SIM cards, your cellphone can be hacked in minutes merely by sending two SMS messages. The resulting security hole could leave individuals vulnerable to theft, surveillance, impersonation, and eavesdropping. Security expert Karsten Nohl, tested around 1,000 SIM cards from North American & European networks: the breach works by cloaking a text message to look like it’s been sent from your provider – the phone then sends an error message back that contains all the information a hacker needs to work out the SIM card’s digital key. Although the hack only worked on around a quarter of cards encrypted with DES, the remaining three-quarters of the cards recognized that the original message was a hack. With around half of the world’s six billion cellphones using DES, that means around three-quarters of a billion devices could be vulnerable. SIMs protected by triple-DES, a newer encryption system, are exempt.

There’s always something, isn’t there!?!

How Ford plans to bring cars into the ‘Internet of things’

Get used to hearing about “the Internet of Things”. It’s the latest marketing phrase from the industry that brought you the Millenium Bug and M2M (machine-to-machine). But whereas M2M allowed machines to talk wirelessly via GSM or ISM (or even good ol’ fashioned Cat5) to update themselves or transact commercially, “the Internet of Things” puts all hardware  on the internet to conduct their communication.

And so to Ford, and where cars fit into that vision. Things that connected cars can or will soon do include voice-response commands, but Ford’s aiming higher: Its AppLink platform lets you connect with Pandora, Stitcher, and other apps on your phone via the car’s voice-recognition interface. In the future, you might be able to pre-order a coffee or automatically pre-pay for petrol before you arrive via your car. Ford also envisions wearable sensors which connect with your car to let it know if you’re suffering from a medical condition, e.g. a heart attack, and the adapt the driving (or even take over & park automatically) to prevent accidents.

Put me down for a black T-Top with a pulsating red LED on the front, please…

Sources: Time, Fast Company, VentureBeat
Reporter: SilverFox

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