The US Patent Office has recently published a patent application by Disney Enterprises which appears to be the groundwork for Disney’s announced digital rights management (DRM) technology dubbed ‘Keychest.’
The technology is intended to allow an individual to purchase the right to a movie or a song or book or any other type of protected content and be able to play that same content on any number of multimedia devices with just the single purchase. For example, songs purchased through iTunes are limited not just to iPod/iPhone/iTunes devices, but specific ones. With ‘Keychest’ technology, that song might also be able to be played on a PC using any copy of iTunes (or even another application), on any other mobile device, etc. The same would apply for movies. For example, purchase the latest Disney film on DVD and immediately be able to stream it on your friend’s computer or play it on your cell phone, all at no additional cost.
But, as Disney has been quick to note, Keychest is not a form of DRM. Rather it’s a technology to introduce a system in which a trusted authority can validate that an individual has the rights to a particular multimedia item. So for example, purchasing a song on iTunes would notify the trusted authority that you now own that song and when you attempt to play it on a different, compatible device, that device can confirm with the trusted authority that you own the item and allow you to play it on the alternate device.
Through various actions by the Walt Disney Company that we have already reported on, we believe that it’s not Disney’s intent to actually create the system using Keychest technology, but rather that they will license the technology out to a company (or perhaps an independent organization composed of various licensors) that will operate the authority under its own name and that Disney will be a client, having already registered several domain names which support the notion that the technology will apply to Disney films.
For your daily recommended reading, here is the Keychest Patent Application.
I won’t pretend to understand them, but two related patent applications have just been published for Disney Enterprises in which Disney presents a way of producing colorful fireworks using an alternative chemical make-up.
The problem with current fireworks, the applications say, is that the perchlorates commonly found in pyrotechnics such as fireworks produce a large amount of smoke which makes use of large fireworks inside some closed arenas such as stadiums implausible. In addition, even when used outdoors, the perchlorates can find their way into a small percentage of drinking water, posing health risks.
Citing previously granted patents offering alternative chemical make-up of fireworks to produce low-smoke fireworks, Disney’s applications point out that the existing solutions require ingredients that are not readily available.
Disney has already pioneered new innovations in the pyrotechnics industry, having developed the Air-Launch Fireworks (ALF) system used at Disneyland and Epcot in which many (but not all) of the fireworks shells are launched into the air using compressed air as opposed to the industry norm of gunpowder.
Pages of banter and speculation have arisen from the photo of the model of the new Fantasyland Fantasy Forest expansion at the Magic Kingdom ever since we first brought it to you (incidentally, you can see a close-up of the model’s Sleeping Beauty cottage in the spring 2010 issue of D23 magazine). Much of which has to do with the plans for Pixie Hollow, for which the model shows an attraction similar to a new one coming to Disney’s California Adventure, but some say said plans have since been scrapped in favor of a ‘next generation,’ interactive meet & greet with the Disney fairies.
Fuel for this speculation can also be found in this Inside Walt Disney Imagineering video released by Disney Parks back in August. You’ll find the element in question in the 2:16 – 2:22 range in which Tink herself makes an appearance.
So what is it? Thanks to newly granted US patent #7652824, we may just have been provided the answer.
The patent, titled System and/or method for combining images, looks at ways to ‘plus’ a very aged but still convincing theatrical effect known as Pepper’s ghost, which is often used in existing Disney attractions, most notably the Haunted Mansion. However, the patented system takes Pepper’s ghost well into the 21st century making use of computers to dynamically generate the interactive images and backgrounds that can be superimposed onto the reflective surface the guest is viewing, which also undoubtedly builds on existing technology used for Stitch and Crush interactive interactions already in the parks.
Essentionally this means that the next time you see Tinker Bell, she may literally appear right before your eyes. Allowing the physical elements to be dynamically moved, Tink can appear to be flying next to you or even in front and behind you. And that’s just the tip of the virtual iceberg.
Not only will you be able to vocally interact with Tink, but sophisticated sensors and technology will allow Tink to be able to dynamically determine how many guests are in the room with you, focus on various physical aspects of yours and follow your movements. She’ll literally be able to look you (or another member in your group) in the eye. She’ll be able to appear to touch you, interact in different ways such as visually appearing to place virtual Mouse Ears on your head (if you aren’t wearing them already) and more. She can even grow or shrink dynamically to be more suitable to your own (automatically determined) height. She may also be able to dynamically interact with physical objects such as laser pointers or bluetooth enabled devices.
Of course this is just one possible implementation of the patent. It can easily be adapted to shows or attractions, so there’s no telling where this technology may dynamically appear.
You may recall a couple of years ago, the Magic Kingdom was ‘testing’ a very popular device called the Disney Magic Connection: a special cartridge locked into an otherwise-ordinary Nintendo DS that provided guests beta-testing the device the ability to know where the nearest facilities were based on location, estimated standby times for attractions and more. Many have since wondered what became of the project and we now have an idea.
Last week, a patent application from Disney Enterprises was published and although it describes the Disney Magic Connection system to a tee, what the application covers is ready to propel the entire theme park experience to a whole other level, integrating technology into virtually every aspect of even the most traditional element.
Essentially it describes a wireless device (or, as an example, an exisiting portable video game system with an expansion cartridge (hint, hint)) that relies on both infrared and wireless networks to provide a variety of services. Borrowing from the Pal Mickey technology, the infrared portion will receive a message at certain key points and instruct the device to announce a specific element already stored in its database, while the wireless aspect will provide dynamic updates, information and additional content. But enough with the boring details, let’s look at the device in action. Example:
Lilo and Stitch are visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Lilo wants to go shopping and watch High School Musical while Stitch wants to go ride the Tower of Terror. Using the devices, Lilo is guided to the nearest clothing store while Stitch is directed to the Tower of Terror, but he notices that the standby is much longer than he hoped, thanks to sensors placed inside the actual queue which accurately determine where the end of the line is. So instead, he opts for the single rider line in Rock’n'Roller Coaster. Meanwhile, High School Musical is about to begin and sensors embedded along the walking paths determine that it’s probably best Lilo starts moving along a particular route to make the show. She then sends a message to Stitch via the devices’ friends list and tells him where she’s at. Stitch, not keen on seeing the song and dance show, decides he’ll wait for Tower of Terror after all and while he’s waiting in queue, the device automatically feeds him games specific to the attraction or maybe trailers from upcoming Disney films, etc., to keep him entertained as he waits for the ride.
The show’s halfway over and Lilo gets an alert: it seems the Sci-Fi dine-in, which she is relatively nearby, has a lot of space available so the manager has decided to issue a virtual coupon via the device for 10% off the bill. So Lilo messages Stitch and asks him if he’d like to dine there. Of course he says yes, so Lilo makes the ADR as she’s watching High School Musical and — as if by magic — as soon as the show is over and Stitch exits Tower of Terror, the device alerts them that their table is ready.
All of this and a bit more is actually covered in the patent application. It doesn’t necessarily mean it will ever come to fruition however, but it does give a good sense as to where the park may be heading. The application also covers the device being used in conventions and other types of events where maps and schedules can be instantaneously updated and delivered to the end user, which would easily alleviate many of the problems experienced during the first D23 Expo (mind you this patent was applied for long before the Expo too).