With SXSW starting today there’s a lot to talk about, whether you’ll be in attendance or not. Even if you are going, you couldn’t possibly attend everything, which is why bloggers far and wide are covering all things connected to the magical, memorable experience that are SXSW. 

Of course, the words “magical” and “memorable” apply even more obviously when used to describe all things Disney, which is why the session “Does the IoT Need to Be User-Centered? We Say Yes” is sure to offer up a double dose of both, since Claro Partners’ Chris Massot – who created the Disney MagicBand (among other things) – will be among those presenting.

Massot will be joined by Justin Butler, VP of Business Development at Misfit Wearables, Mario Esposito, CTO and Co-Founder of Sensoria, and Aaron C. Teersteg, Internet of Things Evangelism Team Manager for Intel.

The topic is a timely one, with the Internet of Things (IoT) in a state of rapid development. Though much of the focus is understandably on innovating the technology of connection for appliances we already use – and those we’re in the process of dreaming to life – to not also have an eye on the UX (user experience) is short-sighted. Because beyond the Internet of Things is an Internet of People.

And Disney could serve as a model for savvy companies focusing on combining UX with the IoT. A kind-of case study in what works follows.

Magical Combination: UX and the IoT

What does Disney’s MagicBand do? The better question is what DOESN’T it do?

For anyone staying at Walt Disney World in Florida, the MagicBand is their key to the castle, so to speak. Disney resort guests and pass-holders receive MagicBands automatically, but anyone can purchase their own once at the park, or at select retail outlets.

The colorful, wearable wristband lives up to its name by connecting wearers to their My Disney Experience account – seemingly by magic – so that they can roam the park freely without need for purse, wallet, or keys. MagicBands are everything the mobile wallet aspires to be – it opens your hotel room door, allows you to charge park food/drink and merchandise purchases to your room, check-in at FastPass+ (think VIP) entrances, and more.

All wearers need do is touch the MagicBand to designated touch points and (sometimes) enter a PIN and they’re in. Even more genius, users can customize their MagicBands with gems and character icons – sold separately, of course.

Warning: Functionality alone isn’t enough to impress

What do users think of this technology connecting them to their Disney experience?

NetBase used advanced Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology to find out what MagicBand wearers are saying online. Here’s what we discovered:

People – Mickey is, of course, top-of-mind at Disney, but are you surprised to see MagicBand edge out Elsa and Anna (from the insanely popular Frozen)? That’s insight Disney shouldn’t “let go” – and speaks to how convenience trumps even the most deeply rooted character obsession. 

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Terms – Convenience is clearly top of mind when looking at the terms connected to MagicBands – and they’re killing it in just so many ways:

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Emotions – But the best information of all is revealed in the emotions associated with MagicBands, with positive emotions far outweighing negative (which is what any brand wants):

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And it’s interesting to note some hardcore Disney fans hunt down limited-edition MagicBands, and tech enthusiasts praise the bands’ design.

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The streamlined functionality of the MagicBand inspires much more social sharing than a magnetic key card offering the same access. And it’s apparently a pretty cool keepsake.

You don’t need magic to see the future

MagicBands are just one example of exceptional user experience, of course – there are certainly many out there. And as the IoT expands and becomes more a part of life as we know it, we’ll see more brands hop on the UX bandwagon, because they’ll have to: The expectations of consumers will also expand to include built-in “extras” – like cross-functionality, social customer service on demand, and of course security they can rely on.

Coming at user experience from a social listening standpoint is a great starting point. And ultimately, focusing on making the UX a little magical never hurts.

NetBase will be at SXSW! Follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the event. 

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