As you may recall, in 2017 we wrote an exclusive here at Theme Park University. We took a deep dive into facial recognition technology coming to Universal Orlando. Indeed, some of that project could be seen in plain sight by guests. Some can only seen by Universal Team Members. However, most of it was (and still is) being worked on behind-the-scenes.
You may be wondering: is facial recognition still coming to Universal Parks? Indeed it is and now we are starting to see some acknowledgment come from Universal itself.
For starters, just as a refresher, what did I say facial recognition could be used for at Universal? Well, essentially everything Disney can do with a MagicBand, Universal can do with your face. That’s correct. From a gateless entry area to making purchases when you’ve signed up on the Universal app to opening your hotel door, redeeming Express Passes and beyond.
We go into extreme detail about what the future holds and while many think the project might be dead, indeed it’s alive and kicking. If you haven’t already, click on this article from 2017 to get up to speed on our original predictions.
Caught up? Great. Now let’s compare to a new announcement from Universal Beijing Resort. Recently a partnership was revealed with a Chinese software company known as Alibaba.
Now Alibaba has many different types of software that is compatible with mobile technology. According to a recent press release, guests will be able to purchase tickets and reserve a hotel room at Universal Beijing Resort with just a few swipes from their phone.
Additionally, their software will allow them to purchase meals in advance via mobile order and even recommend food based on guest preferences.
However, what stood out to me from the press announcement was the following: Universal Beijing guests have the option of using Alipay’s facial-recognition technology across the resort, from park entry to storage lockers to express-lane access to even payment for merchandise and meals.
This is important because it shows the scope that they plan on using with facial recognition throughout the park. Again, just about everything a MagicBand can do at Walt Disney World, you will be able to do with your face at Universal Studios Beijing.
Finally, even though the name Alibaba is all over the press release, they are being driven by Universal Parks on how all this gets rolled out and integrated. That same team is working on facial recognition for all Universal Parks worldwide.
It’s going to be a while until we see a global roll out in the United States for this technology, but rest assured, it is happening. (As always this info isn’t official until Universal Parks officially announces it) Your thoughts?
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