While Walt Disney World’s billion-dollar NextGen project has been no secret for quite some time, along with many of its aspects such as extensive use of RFID, the company itself has remained famously mum about the extent of the project, something we have been discussing for well over a year.
Disney Research Pittsburgh has just released the video below which demonstrates one of its latest projects: an audio animatronic robot that can interact with people by playing catch with them. The system uses an off-the-shelf Microsoft Kinect (according to the video’s narration) along with an external camera system (ASUS Xtion PRO LIVE) to locate balls and a Kalman ?lter to predict ball destination and timing. So not only is the robot able to track a human’s position and size by the location of their head, but it can attempt to move its hand to catch the ball. If the robot misses the catch, it’s fully aware and even responds with one of several different humorous animations to elicit a response from the person interacting with it.
Stop us if you’ve heard this one: When is a character not a character? When they’re an ‘experience delivery system.’ Get it? Okay, maybe it’s not that funny, or clever, but according to a patent application for a system known as ‘Managing Experience State to Personalize Destination Visits,’ it’s the future truth — and it’s a key element to the MyMagic+/My Disney Experience coming to the Walt Disney World Resort as part of its NextGen experience.
In an age where Kinect and PlayStation Eye/Move are encouraging less traditional interaction with video game consoles and cameras are a mainstay in virtual everything, let alone most mobile devices, one man at Disney Interactive sees video game systems moving even further from the path of the familiar and letting the console games make their own decisions based on — you guessed it — physical appearance.
Both ‘System and method for number of players determined using facial recognition’ (US Patent Application 20120214585) and ‘Gender and age based gameplay through face perception’ (US Patent Application 20120214584) list Phillippe Paquet as the sole inventor and offer to leverage existing technology in interesting ways.
After presenting its technique for cloning the human face in an effort to produce more realistic audio animatronics at SIGGRAPH, Disney Research Zurich has released this video which takes a closer look at the process, which we began discussing on here last month.
While Disney Research Zurich prepares to present its face cloning for audio animatronic use at SIGGRAPH today, Disney Research Pittsburgh is demonstrating its own new technology which allows converting any isolated plant into an interactive experience, allowing computers to detect where a human touches the plant.
Dubbed ‘Botanicus Interacticus: Interactive Plant Technology,’ the technology, which is based on the Touche technology introduced earlier this year, allows a single electrical wire to be inserted in soil. The wire transmits a frequency sweep between .1 and 3 Mhz which allows the area in which the plant is touched to be estimated without causing any damage to the plant itself.
In this day and age in which 3D scans of human faces are turned into exciting keepsakes such as the Disney/LucasFilm Star Wars Weekends experience ‘Carbon Freeze Me,’ in which guests could receive a replica of themselves frozen in carbonite a la Han Solo, and the upcoming ‘I Am A Princess,’ which builds on a previous test in which guests could have a princess doll in their likeness made, technology is becoming a key player in what has been even the most traditional of trades.
Now that Disney (NYSE:DIS) has finally gotten its ‘TV Everywhere’ initiative off the ground, as we first reported earlier this month — with even more networks such as ABC Family on the way, along with cable providers beyond Comcast — the focus now shifts to Disney’s extensive film collection.
An announcement made last week on Disney Movies Online has raised some eyebrows, causing some to ponder if DSAA/Keychest’s time has finally arrived. Certainly the changes coming to DMO on June 27 are worth the contemplation: accounts for those under 13 not permitted; accounts only for United States users; and a slew of films that won’t be available for viewing online for the foreseeable future.
Imagine walking into a room, running up to and hugging Donald Duck, turning to face an unmanned camera and walking out with a unique QR code stamped in your autograph book next to the ‘Donald Duck #1′ signature, referencing it later to not only access hi-res photos on your phone, but a fully edited video package of your character experience — and not a single Cast Member had a hand in the process.
With motion capture (MoCap) technology setups and video analytic software becoming more and more commonplace and more cost effective, it’s only a matter of time before their applications go beyond the norm of filmmaking and security.
When Disney’s Art of Animation Resort opens this summer, its guests will be one of the first to experience the driving force behind Walt Disney World’s NextGen project — the room key. Instead of the traditional card key readers that most hotels use, guests at Art of Animation will access their room via RFID. Although some vacation destinations (notably Great Wolf Lodge) have already embraced the magic of RFID for years and have even taken it far beyond the hotel room, this gesture is particularly noteworthy because it signals the start of what we’ve already known to be coming and it’s just the tiniest tip of the largest iceberg this universe has ever seen.