December 07, 2012

Disney World On Fast Track to Next-Generation Tech


Walt Disney World opened the reinvention of its Test Track, the Chevrolet Test Track, last night, “the exhilarating driving experience, now designed by you.” Users can create their own virtual custom-concept vehicle then put the design through its paces at speeds of up to 65 miles per hour on the Test Track circuit.

After the “test drive,” users can see how well the car performed, produce and share a TV commercial starring their dream ride and explore a Chevrolet showroom, complete with shiny new cars on display.


Image via Jalopnik

The interactive experience is brought to Disney World attendees by Disney Imagineers and Chevrolet designers to immerse guests into the Chevrolet design process. Alan Batey, CMO and head of U.S. sales and services for GM, said he hopes this ride will inspire the next generation of automobile designers.


"We're here to celebrate a re-imagining of the future of transportation," said Meg Crofton, president of Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts, operations, U.S. and France. She went on to thank General Motors who have been partners of Test Track since the initial concept for the ride.

The grand opening featured Walt Disney World president Meg Crofton, GM’s Alan Batey, and Mickey Mouse, all of whom re-launched the high-speed ride by way of Chevrolet’s MyLink technology. The satellite-enabled technology started the countdown to the Test Track’s official launch. Chevrolet MyLink helps keep users connected, offering smartphone device and app integration with Bluetooth streaming audio, touchscreen display, USB connectivity and SiriusXM Satellite Radio.

The Chevrolet Test Track is not the only way Disney is adopting next-generation technology. Earlier this year, it demonstrated its “Touche” technology that can sense hand gestures on the human body and everyday objects, which could effectively make all extant user interfaces obsolete, turning the human body into the ultimate remote.

According to Disney’s video, the promise of Touche could one day make all button interfaces obsolete. A phone could be nothing more than a brick you hold in your pocket and never have to touch. Just tap your forehead to turn it on and touch your ears to start a call. The number of potential uses for this kind of technology is endless – you could dim lights by sitting in a chair, lock a door by holding the knob is a certain way, or turn on the stove by rubbing your stomach.


Image via Touring Plans

The park also adopted its Fastpass technology in May. Installed colorful posts in front of many major park attractions are scanning areas used to read radio-frequency identification (RFID)-equipped Fastpass tickets. The ultimate goal for the Fastpass system is twofold. The RFID-based system would replace the existing (and rather clunky) system of distributing paper Fastpass tickets to guests eager to bypass standby lines with a digital format that electronically stores all the necessary timing information, indicating when guests can enter a ride or show. But more importantly, the test was a first step in the previously-announced “NextGen” theme park experience that will include making ride reservations from outside the parks, often dubbed X-Pass or Fastpass+.




Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli



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