Disney has developed a platform called ‘Magic Bench’ which combines the power of Augmented Reality (AR) with the real world, producing a world of mixed reality, helping users witness a magical world around them.
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The primary feature of this technology is that users don’t have to make use any external paraphernalia like a headset, instead, using Magic Bench the surroundings are tweaked in such a manner that their interactivity with the user changes.
In this case, it’s the surrounding rather than the user that is instrumented, allowing a larger group of people to experience the technology together.
“This platform creates a multi-sensory immersive experience in which a group can interact directly with an animated character. Our mantra for this project was: Hear a character coming, see them enter the space, and feel them sit next to you,” said Moshe Mahler, Principal Digital Artist at Disney Research.
The Magic Bench portrays a mirror image of the people on a large screen infront of them, and it appears as if from a third person’s point of view.
“The scene is reconstructed using a depth sensor, allowing the participants to actually occupy the same 3D space as a computer-generated character or object, rather than superimposing one video feed onto another,” the researchers said in a paper that will be presented at ‘SIGGRAPH 2017’ event in Los Angeles on July 30.
In order to make this happen, a colour camera and depth sensor were used to create a real-time, HD-video-textured 3D reconstruction of the bench, surroundings and participants.
“The bench itself plays a critical role. Not only does it contain haptic actuators, but it constrains several issues for us in an elegant way. We know the location and the number of participants, and can infer their gaze. It creates a stage with a foreground and a background, with the seated participants in the middle ground,” Mahler explained.
“It even serves as a controller; the mixed reality experience doesn’t begin until someone sits down and different formations of people seated create different types of experiences,” he added.