Disney has successfully filed a patent for a system dubbed a ‘virtual-world simulator’, which would enable users to experience a simulated digital world without the need for headsets or glasses. The patent was granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office on 28th December.
The Walt Disney Company is no stranger to cutting-edge digital technology. While they largely avoided the rush on virtual reality that many other theme parks indulged in, video projection mapping and simulated holographic imagery have both been used in their parks. The recently opened Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland Park features many such examples, including a holographic rendition of Star Wars’ Rey. The company is also very supportive of augmented reality; the Rise of the Resistance attraction at Galaxy’s Edge features augmented reality training, for example.
Now, however, they have filed a patent to take that idea a step further. The document details a technology called virtual-world simulation, which Disney considers to be a step beyond augmented or virtual reality. The technology consists of a series of high-speed HD projectors, combined with SLAM technology (Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping). Together, these two systems can continuously track a visitor’s position and display the correct ‘view’ from their unique perspective. The result would be a ride that enabled multiple visitors to simultaneously experience a 3D virtual world from different vantage points without any wearable peripherals.
A similar, if less technologically advanced, concept was recently used at Super Nintendo World. Mario Kart: Kooper’s Challenge allows visitors to drive their own Kart using a steering wheel, while a wearable headset displays other characters and various items along the way.
By removing the need for wearable peripherals, Disney no doubt hopes to create an even more immersive experience for park visitors. Further, the patent hints that the technology could be adapted for other venues or even home systems in the future.
Although it is still likely some time away, it’s rumoured that Disney would be looking to install virtual world rides at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.