Patent: Disney Virtual Pets Travel Globe in Real Life

Traveling Virtual PetWith the ‘Traveling Virtual Pet Game System’ (U.S. Patent Application 20110070935), inventor Damon R. Beggs hopes to bring the perpetual successes of the virtual pet into the 21st century, allowing it to travel the world (and beyond) all while in the palm of your hand.

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Spector-ation: Haunted Mansion Ghosts About to Get Interactive

Early last year, we shared with you news of a patent from Disney Enterprises which, in part, calls for being able to use cameras combined with software to detect a guest and identify certain features while also being able to combine dynamically generated images with projected or reflected images of the guests themselves.

Then, we were led to believe that this technology would first be seen as part of a new meet and greet experience at Pixie Hollow in the New Fantasyland. With those plans seemingly out the window, we now focus our attention to the Haunted Mansion at the Magic Kingdom which has very openly been making some unknown changes to the hitchhiking ghosts scene at the end.

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Disney Parks Technology Recognized by American Foundation for the Blind

Disney's Outdoor Audio Description Technology for Guests with Disabilities © DisneyOn Friday, March 11, the American Foundation for the Blind will recognize and award Walt Disney Parks and Resorts for its innovative Assistive Technology Device which debuted in summer 2010 at its annual ceremony in Seattle. Along with Disney, CBS Television, Lexmark International and Accessible Twitter will also be recognized by the non-profit group.

“Too often, swift advances in technology bring the rewards of convenience and entertainment to an eager world while inadvertently leaving those who are visually impaired behind,” says AFB president and CEO, Carl R. Augusto. “Each of this year’s Access Award winners displayed a real commitment to making sure their products and services are equally accessible to everyone. And with the growing number of people with vision loss, focusing on accessibility is not only the right thing to do, it’s also a savvy business decision.”

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ESPN Launches ‘ScoreCenter’ App on Samsung Internet-Enabled Televisions

ESPN has launched its ScoreCenter application, popular on devices like the iPhone and iPad, to Internet-enabled televisions.  ScoreCenter will first be available on Samsung Internet-enabled TVs via the Samsung Apps store, the world’s first HDTV-based application store.

The application provides fans with the ability to view scores and stats from a variety of sports with a touch of a button. Scoreboards and live game details can expand to include in-game stats, scores and schedules. Personalization features allow fans to customize their ScoreCenter experience by highlighting their favorite teams and leagues.  Fans can also position the application to suit their preference, including across the top, bottom or sides of the screen.  The video image adjusts accordingly, depending on the placement of the app. 

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Report: ‘TRON: Legacy’ and Disney Imagineering at USA Science and Engineering Festival

SHIVA Laser at 'TRON: Legacy' exhibit

This past weekend, tens of thousands of families partook in the inaugural USA Science & Engineering Festival held on the National Mall in Washington, DC as well as satellite events throughout the country. The two-day free festival was created in order to inspire the nation’s youth to pursue careers in maths and sciences by offering various hands-on activities. One of many participants, The Walt Disney Company presented a booth and multiple presentations in conjunction with the National Academy of Engineering featuring TRON: Legacy as well as Walt Disney Imagineer Lanny Smoot.

The concept behind the booth was  ’14 Grand Challenges,’ created by the NAE, which is essentially a list of tasks that the NAE believes will need to be addressed in this and future generations. Inside the booth were a few exhibits that demonstrated some of the challenges in practice as well as items from the Disney film. On display from TRON: Legacy was the life-size demonstration model of the lightcycle as well as the SHIVA laser invented by Kevin Flynn which was actually used during the movie’s production.

Relating to the sci-fi SHIVA laser scanner (which the original TRON featured back in 1982) was an exhibit on 3D scanning which helps scientists understand objects better. By using a scanning in a physical object, the computer can generate a point cloud which then translates into a mesh model and finally a digital representation of the object, which can then be explored further in digital space, modified and even re-printed as a physical object.

The next demonstration made every one into a virtual brain surgeon, even if — especially in my case — they aren’t one. Using the the NeuroTouch VR brain surgery simulator developed by the National Research Council in Canada. The NeuroTouch takes MRI data and generates a virtual copy of the patients’ brain and allows the surgeon to visualize and even practice operating on the brain, even providing physical feedback in the virtual 3D space. The exhibit offered visitors the opportunity to remove a brain tumor while controlling any bleeding that was occurring as a result and scored the visitor’s performance. As I mentioned earlier, I’m no brain surgeon, so we’ll just leave it at that.

The final demonstration in the booth was created by Walt Disney Imagineering specifically as an offering for the festival as well as the film’s premiere and uses a new innovention called ‘light painting.’ A two-step process, the visitor first finds him/herself alone in a room with what essentially amounts to a sawhorse. Reclining on the sawhorse as if one were riding a lightcycle, the system uses stereoscopic imagery to take a 3D photo of the visitor. Following the photo, the visitor is handed a wand whose tip is tracked by the cameras placed all around. This allows the visitor to virtually paint their missing lightcycle in the virtual 3D space. Imagineer Lanny Smoot, who talked about the exhibit during his presentation which I’ll cover next, compared it to using a digital camera at home and leaving the shutter open so that the camera constantly captures every movement, but here it’s in a literal 3D space, not just the 2D space a single camera could capture.

(more…)

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Mickey Mouse Loses His Head Over New Stage Show at Disneyland Resort (Magic Spoiler)

Although I tend to stray from the topic of not preserving the magic as much as possible, a recent article by the Orange County Register has gotten the wheels in my head turning and I believe it’s time one seriously begins to ponder just where The Walt Disney Company is planning on taking its technology and just how far it’ll go to turn heads — articulated heads even.

The OC Register article takes a look at the new stage show at Disney California Adventure, Disney Dance Crew, in which Mickey Mouse performs on stage lip-syncing to track and blinking his eyes. While this is new technology for the Disneyland Resort, it’s not all that new for the company. What is new however is just how the articulated head is being used.

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ABC Introduces First-of-its-Kind Ad Inventory Exchange System with Television Affiliates

In an increasingly cooperative effort to create financial opportunities in the network/affiliate relationship, ABC Television Network and its Affiliate Board of Governors, which represents more than 200 affiliates, today announced the Inventory Exchange System (IES), a strategic and systematic way of exchanging ad inventory that creates shared revenue opportunities. For the first time in the history of the network, ABC, through the launch of IES, will create the opportunity to strategically offer ABC affiliates the option to purchase additional network ad inventory packages to sell locally at a profit.

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Patent: Disney’s Newest Performers Got Strings to Hold Them Down, Make Them Fret, Make Them Frown

Let’s face it, audio animatronic figures are just a passing fad. Sure they look and move in realistic fashions, even so much as being able to appear to walk steps or be able to twirl a lasso, but it all comes at a high cost — literally and figuratively. They’re expensive to design and create, require expensive maintenance and heavy and large platforms and have extremely limited mobility. And that’s coming from one of the leaders in robotic development at Disney Research, Lanny Smoot. Smoot, Imagineer Gary Schnuckle and Timothy Caldwell are the driving forces behind a new patent application which seeks out the next generation of reliable, consistent, automated performances and they just might have found the answer for 2010 in technology whose origins have been traced as far back as 2000 B.C. — marionettes.

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ESPN Debuts Nimble SpiderCam Technology During US Open Coverage

ESPN's SpiderCam at the U.S. OpenMaking its debut at a Grand Slam tennis event, ESPN’s SpiderCam at the US Open has taken viewers where they’ve never gone before for dramatic shots of Arthur Ashe Stadium.  The aerial camera system – which is exclusive to ESPN2 and its approximately 100 hours of US Open action – is suspended by four thin Kevlar ropes connected to large winches via pulleys high above the court surface on light poles at the four corners of the world’s largest tennis arena.  It moves in three dimensions, ranging from as low as one meter off the court to 33 meters high, from beyond one end of the court to the other and from side to side.  The camera can pan, tilt, zoom and focus, with the images sent via fiber optics wiring within the Kevlar roping.

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Patent Reveals Disney Had ‘Talking Mickey’ Technology for Almost 20 Years

Patent drawing for voice transformation used in a theme park characterWhat could be more surprising than walking into a room and having Mickey Mouse talk to you? How about the fact that Disney has been sitting on the technology for well over a decade?

There was little surprise yesterday about how quickly the YouTube video of a Talking Mickey character test at Disneyland garnered attention, turning just a few dozen views from when we first reported it to tens of thousands less than a day later, but realizing that there would have to at least be a patent application somewhere before the technology was debuted, we set out to find the source of the marveling magic.

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