Disney to use hand geometry biometrics at Disney World

Published 7 March 2006

Visitors arriving at the gates of the four Disney World theme parks, the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, or the MGM Studios, will encounter something unexpected: biometrics. Disney has embarked on a program to use an established biometric technology — finger geometry — to secure its valuable passes. This new security is advertised as a service for the pass owner, but it is also being implemented to secure Disney’s pricing structure and marketing strategy. As has been typically the case with Disney lately, it has not come without controversy.

Hand geometry is based on the fact that every individual’s hand is shaped differently than another individual’s hand, and over the course of time, the shape of the person’s hand does not significantly change. Finger or hand scanning systems capture the physical, geometric characteristics of an individual’s hand — with most systems having the capacity to do so in less than a second. From these measurements, a profile or “template” is constructed which will be used to compare against subsequent readings by the user. Finger and hand geometry are considered somewhat interchangeable terms, but hand geometry evaluates the person’s entire hand form as a biometric identifier, while finger geometry looks only at a subset of the five fingers to form the identifier. In either case such geometry does not entail the taking of a person’s fingerprints. A recent study by the National Academies of Science found that while a person’s finger geometry is distinctive than the person’s fingerprints, hand or figure biometrics is suitable as an identifier for a wide variety of circumstances in which one in a thousand uniqueness is sufficient.