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Disney May Send Viewers on a Digital Scavenger Hunt

19 Dec, 2005 By: Holly J. Wagner

The Walt Disney Co. is working on another media player system, this time one that would let users download shorts or segments of feature films to proprietary players as premiums.

The device is a portable media player with a hard drive, to which users would receive wireless downloads.

The patent application suggests that consumers would get a cartoon or segment of a film instead of a toy with Happy Meals and the like. After enough purchases, the consumer would have an entire film.

“Such media may be available at one or more locations so a user could go between access points, e.g. a restaurant, a theater, a video store, etc., picking up small parts of the media, such as a movie, until the entire movie is downloaded,” the patent application states.

The technology could be used for movies, games, music or other media.

The digital scavenger hunt would work similarly to BitTorrent, a peer-to-peer system that lets users download content in segments without regard to which segment is downloaded first.

“Thus, as a promotional program with a venue such as a McDonald's restaurant, a video, video game, new character for a game, etc. can be sent to the player through a wireless Internet connection … as an alternative to giving out toys with Happy Meals or some other promotion,” the application states.

The system would allow users to exchange files between authorized players and to download segments from home Internet connections. It also envisions removable data storage such as flash or other memory sticks or cards.

The patent, first sought in April, is under review.

Disney is known for experimenting with various ways of delivering content. In recent years, it has tested, then shelved, expiring DVDs and a proprietary set-top box called MovieBeam.

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