Making the Band – MagicBand Teardown and More

Disclaimer: Every single thing in this post is public record, or publicly-available information. Please don’t comment otherwise. :)

Welcome back!

Today’s post is a departure from the usual… Many of you know that I’m a school counselor. You may not realize that I’ve got a lot of history with technology; having majored in computer science, attended a technology-focused high school, served in many technology roles across my career path, and even built award-winning robots (at a competition hosted by Disney, no less).

Suffice it to say, technology very much interests me. MagicBands, MyMagic+, and the whole Next Gen technology push at Disney is no exception. I decided to tear down one of my many MagicBands (actually, my girlfriend‘s broken one) to see just what’s going on inside there. Beyond just tearing into the Band itself, I pulled all of the information from the FCC’s search engine relevant to MagicBands and shared that with you as well.

First, the MagicBand teardown! Big, huge thanks to @clintssmith for the table and the photography help!

Thoughts: I knew about the RFID technology… it just made sense to me. Here’s the Wikipedia page about RFID, so you can understand why I assumed quite easily that was what was going on here. The Wal-Mart tag on that page looks a lot like what you see in loss-prevention (anti-shoplifting) tags, as well as the antenna/induction coil layout in the MagicBand. HowStuffWorks also explains RFID, in a much more understandable way.

What surprised me about the inside of the MagicBand was the button cell battery, the second transmitter setup, and the size of the antenna on that second transmitter. RFID is a type of near-field communication, meaning it has to be very close to the reader to activate and to transmit. The non-RFID transmitter is both powered and has a huge (relatively) antenna the size of the colored part of the Band. This means that the communication does NOT require that your band be right at the reader… This means that Disney is wisely able to track MagicBand users as they travel throughout the Parks (and possibly Disney Property as a whole). Will we see Disney roll out long-range readers on their cruise ships? In their stores? On their golf courses? In their resort hotels? Who’s to say? I know I’ve seen MyMagic+ management-types aiming a directional antenna at my train as I rolled into Main Street Station. Data is money and guest satisfaction. There’s no way Disney is going to leave either of those on the table.

Beyond the Band

The long-range antenna and second chip had me wondering just what sort of specifications these MagicBands had… on a suggestion from @clintssmith, I decided to hit the FCC’s public search engine to dig up a little more info for you guys. I’ve linked PDF documents below, each with some fairly interesting information within them.

Visit https://apps.fcc.gov/oetcf/eas/reports/GenericSearch.cfm?calledFromFrame=N if you want to dig up the documents yourself. Enter the grantee code Q3E and go to town…

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 5.56.42 PMYou’ll get a results page like this:

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 5.53.50 PMAnd clicking on any of the links will lead you deeper:Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 5.59.14 PMHowever, as I said, I’ve done the work for you. Click through the following links for some interesting reading, if you’re a nerd type like me. Or click them for cool pictures like this one, and dozens more:

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 6.37.57 PMSo, here’s what I found:

MagicBand:

MagicBand Reader Dome:

Payment Device:

XBR (Long Range Receiver) Version 3.0:

XBR(Long Range Receiver) Version 3.2:

XBR(Long Range Receiver) Version 4.0:

XTPRA/XTPRS:

Hope you enjoyed this little detour from the usual… Please let me know in the comments or on twitter!
-ADA
@AtDisneyAgain

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