Parents, hide your vases and horse statues, you are about to receive a midi-chlorian infestation of the highest order. Just published today is a US Patent application titled ‘Immersive Storytelling Environment’ (US20140080109) and it’s a pretty amazing read. While the Disney buzzwords STORY and IMMERSIVE are generally reserved for the Disney theme parks, it appears as though Walt Disney Imagineering is now aiming for the home market.
The concept behind ‘Story Immersive Environment’ is to apply what has become standard in video and mobile game play and transition it to the real world with physical movement and play. One of the proposed concepts (as is always the case with patent applications, specifics are never locked into, just discussed as possible use cases) involves Star Wars play as seen in this image. Clearly here we see a young padawan under the care and guidance of Master Yoda as he swings his lightsaber in all directions (aided by AR glasses) while a projected scoreboard keeps track of his score. What’s not clearly shown, however, is the controller that is behind all of this technological wonder, and that is where the real magic starts.
The controller is what will be able to detect which devices (Yoda, Scoreboard, Lightsaber, AR glasses) are readily available, which are applicable to its available stories and then generates and conducts the story based on input (be it physical, audio, visual or what have you). Stories from the available pool can be chosen by the controller by a number of ways (limited to which objects are available): by request from the user, random, or perhaps even along an arc. For example, here, Yoda is able to monitor gameplay over time and if the padawan seems to be swaying towards the dark side, so too will his missions. Stories can potentially be unlocked through gameplay, through purchasing physical tokens at the local toy store and inserting them into devices, downloaded, unlocked when visiting an attraction such as Star Tours at a theme park or there’s even the potential for user generated content and the ability to share it with others.
Another proposed storytelling arcs/props suggested by the application include an interactive lamp that has a built-in vibrator so the lamp can shake as the genie locked up inside begs to be released alongside a touch-sensitive panel to detect when the lamp is being rubbed and a built-in projector so that the genie can visually appear to thank its new master. In addition, a stuffed, animatronic monkey can be added to assist and react to the game such as shrieking when the genie appears, or using GPS to be able to guide the player towards finding an object hidden by another non-player if need be.