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Disney

Robotics

Disney develops "face cloning" technique for animatronics

The “uncanny valley” is one of the frustrating paradoxes of robotics. Every year, roboticists make humanoid robots that more accurately imitate human beings, but it turns out that the better the imitation, the creepier the end result. It’s that strange, hair-raising sensation one gets when visiting the Hall of Presidents at Disneyland. True, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln look very lifelike, but there’s always something wrong that you can’t quite describe. In the hope of bridging this valley, a Disney Research team in Zurich, Switzerland, has invented a new robot-making technique dubbed “face cloning.” This technique combines 3D digital scanning and advanced silicone skins to give animatronic robots more realistic facial expressions.Read More

VR

Disney Research's gloveless REVEL system adds virtual textures to physical objects

Having long been successful with "talkies," Disney has developed technology that could allow the creation of "feelies." While designed more for touchscreens than the silver screen, the REVEL system developed at Disney Research uses reverse electrovibration to bring computerized control over the sense of touch, thereby allowing programmers to change the feel of real-world surfaces and objects without requiring users to wear special gloves or use force-feedback devices.Read More

Science

Botanicus Interactus turns plants into multitouch controllers

It is now possible to control a computer by touching a house plant – touching the plant in different places can even cause the computer to do different things. While using a mouse or touchscreen still might be more intuitive, Disney Research’s experimental Botanicus Interactus system does hint at what could be possible down the road. Read More

Games

SidebySide system lets separately-projected images interact with one another

When you were a kid, perhaps you and your friends played with flashlights, chasing each other’s light spots across the wall – if you were born within the past 20 years, just substitute the term “laser pointers” for “flashlights.” In either case ... wouldn’t it have been neat if those spots of light came to life when they met, and fought with each other? That’s the type of thing that’s now possible with the prototype SidebySide system, developed by Disney Research, Pittsburgh, and Carnegie Mellon University. It enables animated images from two separate handheld projectors to interact with each other on the any surface.Read More

Science

Motion capture system makes actors the camera instead of putting them in front of it

Computer-generated imagery (CGI) has become such a staple of modern movie-making that most people know what actors are doing when prancing around in front of green screens wearing skin-tight leotards with reflective balls affixed at various locations over their bodies - motion capture. In addition to the actor’s performance, such techniques can also require the tracking of camera movements and props so that perspective is maintained when translating the movements into CGI. Now researchers have demonstrated a system that can perform motion capture almost anywhere and without the need to track a separate camera and it does this by mounting the cameras on the actors instead. Read More

Science

Disney’s Surround Haptics creates ‘virtual actuators’ to generate high-res tactile feedback

In the quest for more immersive entertainment experiences, researchers at Disney Research, Pittsburgh (DRP) have developed a new tactile technology called Surround Haptics. Instead of just relying on sound and vision – and in the case of video games, vibrating controllers – the system uses a low-resolution grid of vibrating actuators to generate high-resolution, continuous, moving tactile strokes across a person’s skin. They claim the system is able to create smooth, continuous tactile motion, akin to the feeling of someone dragging a finger across someone’s skin, rather than the discrete tactile pulsations or buzzes commonly used in today’s haptic technology.Read More

Children

RC Tron Light Cycle drives on walls and ceilings

Back in 1982, when the original Tron was released, movie merchandising wasn’t quite as... robust as it is today. Therefore, there wasn’t much available in the way of Tron collectibles, much to the chagrin of Apple II-using geeks everywhere. Skip forward 28 years, and you can now buy Tron Legacy toys before the movie has even opened. One of the first out of the starting gates is Air Hogs’ RC Zero G Light Cycle... and yes, you're right, remote-control toys have become pretty much a dime a dozen. Ones that can be driven across walls or ceilings, however, are still kind of special.Read More

Motorcycles

Buy your own Tron Lightcycle: US$35,000

The lightcycle scene was probably the most memorable part of an absolutely jaw-dropping movie when Tron was released back in 1982. One of the first films ever to use the kinds of computer-generated special effects that later become commonplace, it was a glimpse into a whole new world that left an indelible impression on most that saw it. Now, as Disney prepares to release Tron Legacy, a sequel some 28 years after the original, the lightcycles are back and looking meaner than ever. Built by the same guys that did the memorable Batpod replica, the new lightcycles feature massive dual hubless wheels, carbon fibre/fibreglass bodies and all the lashings of neon that you'd expect. And there's going to be five running models built - all of which are now up for sale on eBay. Check it out!Read More

Music

Disney Star Guitarist: Guitar Hero with a real guitar

US Music Corp., parent company of several music brands including Washburn Guitars, have partnered with Disney to create the Disney Star suite of applications - which unlike console-based music games, will teach children to play a real guitar or piano using familiar songs from Disney franchises like Hannah Montana and High School Musical.Read More

Children

Disney enters growing robotic toy market

May 1, 2008 Known for DVDs, plush toys and movie character figurines, Disney Consumer Products has announced that it will now enter the fast growing robotic toy market. Disney has created its debut line in collaboration with Pixar Animation Studios, Thinkway Toys and WowWee.Read More

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