Walt Disney Co. may be developing an interest in your feet.
Disney has applied for a patent on a machine that can take images of theme park guests' shoes to gather data and help customize visits.
The patent is described as a "system and method using foot recognition to create a customized guest experience." But Disney representatives say there are no current plans to use it in a theme park.
"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," Disney spokeswoman Suzi Brown said.
The patent describes a machine that takes photos of visitors' feet as they enter a theme park and pairs the photos with demographic information given voluntarily, such as name, age or hometown.
Later in the park, another camera aimed at shoe level can identify a person at a ride or eatery based on the earlier foot photo.
Disney can use this information to let costumed characters greet a visitor by name or make it easier to identify a person on a ride and send the visitor photos or videos of the visitor on an attraction, according to the patent.
Customer data is crucial in the theme park industry because it helps parks track the movement of visitors, making it easier to deploy workers to busy attractions and stores and determine preferences for marketing purposes.
At Walt Disney World in Florida, people who stay in a Disney hotel or have an annual pass can get a wristband with a microchip that can be used to enter the park, buy food, store fast-passes for attractions and open a hotel room door.
The wristbands can give Disney data on visitors' movement and spending habits. But Disney said it doesn't plan to expand the use the wristbands at all parks.
Dennis Speigel, president of International Theme Park Services in Cincinnati, said the advantage of the foot camera is that it is a less invasive way to track customers and gather information than taking photographs of faces throughout a park.
"The more information they have on the guest, the better experience for the guest and the more they know for continued marketing," he said.
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