Are you prepared to get your heart swollen from adorability? This newly-released innovation makes sure you won’t get home without having your emotions fluffed. Engaging, creative, groundbreaking — you’ve got all you need in this captivatingly endearing package.
Introducing Magic Bench — a highly-amusing way of letting users interact with charming animated characters in a reality-mixed-illusion. Designed by Disney Research, this latest technology requires no headsets or any special glasses that should be attached on your body. Each creator makes certain that you are entering in a completely appealing new environment. Mixed-Reality and Augmented Reality creates an illusion of combining animated elements in a real-world experience. If you haven’t embarked on this kind of augmented reality, starting here is a good idea.
Simple and Pleasing Environment
You, the seat and the cartoon animals — triple fun and action
To experience the Magic Bench thrill, all it takes is a simple seat on the bench. And poof — the magic will unfold. Once you enter this realm, a bench and a mirror opposite from that bench is everything you’ll need to begin the ride. The scene is also mirrored on an opposite screen so it’s possible for other viewers to watch the spectacle take into action. And just to remind you, nope, you’re not dreaming— you’re in an actual world interacting with dynamic, animated characters in a mixed-reality voyage. The characters are made up of an adorable little elephant, a sweet giraffe carrying an umbrella, a humorous toad, and many other sorts of pleasing cartoon animals. Sadly, you can’t touch the characters but you can of course feel them, hear them, and see them doing all sorts of things. They’re all designed to get as realistic as possible so not being able to touch them wouldn’t be such a downer.
As one of the creators said, “You may want to rest on a bench or check your email for a second, and all of a sudden it could be raining indoors.” And who can’t say no to that? Bet everyone can’t discard the delight of having around a loveable cartoon animal sitting right beside you with the rain effects coming to make the scene more dramatic.
How does the magic works?
Seat, relax and enjoy!
“Our mantra for this project was: hear a character coming, see them enter the space, and feel them sit next to you,” — this is the vision Disney Research principal digital artist Moshe Mahler wants to deliver with the reality of the project. Successfully, the project’s reality surpasses all expectations. And though Magic Bench isn’t the first one to offer a mixed-reality experience, this project definitely still stands out from the others. It overcomes other limitations that earlier efforts have. So, how does it work? The whole magic is basically composed of a screen, a camera and a computer. The illusion works with a camera and a depth sensor that captures images and collect details about the physical objects, including the user and the bench. It is then sent in to the computer, which algorithms combine with the 3D animations, and the computer augments the images composed with the computer-generated objects. Next, the screen displays everything that has been finished processing, to the people taking a seat on the bench. All this results in an illusion that enables cartoon figures occupy real-word space beside people.
Sitting ecstatically next to a frog
Disney researchers make use of the real-color camera as well as color sensors in a Microsoft Kinect. This captures the scene taking place in the Magic Bench with the users and characters interacting together. The engineers also designed another element, known as the 2 D background, to further enhance the scene.
Besides, this isn’t just any ordinary bench. Of course, it’s a magic bench. After dedicated efforts and studies, Disney Research has engineered this Magic Bench to excellence. Mahler stated that “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.” The bench itself has some vibrators which can replicate realistic effects. Moreover, Mahler added that “It creates a stage with a foreground and a background, with the seated participants in the middle ground. 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.”
Augmented Reality Experiences
An overload of adorability
What makes this all special are the different experiences people can have once they start sitting on the bench. Users can come into groups or just alone to start the interaction. People can witness the mixed-reality technology as large as the bench can offer. The moment they take a seat on the bench, it triggers the different types of augmented reality experience available. A character will then be introduced into the scene. As seen in one of the video demonstrations of the Disney project, one animated donkey arrives into sight and suddenly kicks the bench. While the cartoon figure does this, it generates a sharp sound that startles the user sitting beside it. This shows how the interaction is not only limited to seeing them, but also hearing them produce lifelike sounds.
Experiencing an exciting true-to-life rain
Aside from that, two people have also experienced feeling an animated rabbit jump up and down beside them as soon as they started the magic bench. Users also experienced having a giraffe carrying an umbrella, sitting beside them while rain effects appear in the scene. And while it rains, the person approaches the animal closely as they both shared the umbrella together as if they occupy the same real-like space.
How adorable can this get?
Large group of audience have already experienced the Magic bench, and hopefully it will be demonstrated to all people and be possibly used in Disneyland Amusement Parks in the near future. Totally, this Disney Research project is just one to knock you off your seat and fluff your heart out.