While the details of two new patent applications just published by Disney Enterprises, Inc. may seem highly technical, their subject matter can still give us some insight into the company’s current direction. Patents have been applied for regarding a system that would change the process of how a user’s private information is shared for targeted marketing purposes, as well as a recording system to better translate real world images into a virtual reality experience.
“System and Method for Coordinating Asset Entitlements” focuses on the issue of multiple sources sharing information from an online user on a secure domain. For security reasons, most websites that someone uses sensitive, private information for online will have them create a site-specific ID, with a username, password, and security information. That information is only used for this domain alone, allowing customers to feel secure enough to input more personal data like addresses, credit card numbers, personal contact info., etc.
A problem arises when companies desire to share a user’s secure domain information, such as transaction histories, for targeted marketing. Under current systems, sharing a users site-specific ID information could lead to sensitive information being shared as well. As Disney puts it,
There may be many circumstances, however, in which an exchange of consumer transaction information among secure provider domains can provide advantages to consumers and providers alike. For example, the exchange of consumer transaction information across multiple secure providers can enable delivery of product and/or service availability information to a consumer that is more likely to be responsive to his or her tastes and preferences.
As a result, a consumer may gain more transparent access to products and/or services of genuine interest, while being more effectively screened from advertising material focused on products and services likely to be less desirable. Unfortunately, as the result of conventional approaches to ensuring the security of individual online transactions, should a provider wish to share transaction information for a given consumer with one or more other providers, they may be unable to do so without also sharing consumer credentials or other potentially sensitive or personally identifiable information about the consumer.
Essentially, Disney and companies like them want to share user information to better market their products, but don’t want to cross the line of freely exchanging any sensitive personal or financial information. The patent application defines a system wherein asset entitlements could be determined and added to a database, so only a specified portion of a user’s information is exchanged. For instance, a user’s purchase of online media such as a digital film while under their secure domain ID could be information shared with other outside providers, but those providers would be denied access to any personal financial information regarding the transaction.
Exactly how securely and efficiently this system would operate in practice is anyone’s guess, but the application’s existence is a clear sign that Disney is actively working on ramping up their targeted marketing. With the company’s increased focus on direct-to-consumer products and digital streaming services, questions are bound to arise on just how much personal information The Walt Disney Company is comfortable with sharing from its users’ accounts.
“Omnistereoscopic Panoramic Video” defines a device and system for recording real world images to be used in virtual reality experiences. The application’s descriptions are highly technical and involve capturing multiple images, determining depths, and stitching those separate images together. This is only the most recent in a series of virtual reality-based designs proposed by Disney, and while CEO Bob Iger has previously stated that park attractions would not be replaced by full virtual reality, the company does seem to be determining just how much they can do with VR technology.
The existence of an application does not guarantee the approval of a patent, and an approved patent does not guarantee the associated technology’s use; only time will tell if either of these systems are implemented by The Walt Disney Company. What we can learn from applications like these are which areas Disney is actively working on at the moment, and what we may possibly see coming from them down the line.