I’ve been fairly consistent in saying that video conferencing would take off when mobile devices became powerful enough to allow users to show their surroundings on the go. Amusement parks in particular seemed like an obvious place where video conferencing would be of use. This has been my feeling since around 2002 and it’s been great to see the industry get to a point where a smartphone is as powerful as a laptop of just a few years earlier and virtually everyone with a smartphone or tablet has Skyped on the go by now.
But what I never covered was the potential for combining amusement parks, video, photos and social networking. This all came to me today as I saw that Great Wolf Resorts, North America's largest family of indoor waterpark resorts has new Great Wolf Connect Kiosks allowing Facebook photo sharing and virtual postcard sending via RFID wristbands linked to your account. Guests can pose at Paw Posts throughout the park and have the photos shared automatically with others via Facebook.
For now this new technology can only be found at Great Wolf Lodge – Grand Mound located just off Interstate-5, midway between Portland and Seattle but you have to wonder if the idea will catch on in malls and retail stores. And more importantly, with smartphones being as powerful as they are and 4G being rolled out, is it late for amusement parks looking to social networking automation as a way of improving their user experience.
Then again, I have never gone to any of the company’s parks but I have gone to Connecticut's Lake Compounce – where you don’t carry your cellphone in the water park area. In such a scenario, it makes great sense to rely on the waterpark’s technology for photo sharing.