Video by: DisneyResearchHub
Mixed Reality (MR) and Augmented Reality (AR) create exciting opportunities to engage users in immersive experiences, resulting in natural human-computer interaction. Many MR interactions are generated around a first-person Point of View (POV). In these cases, the user directs to the environment, which is digitally displayed either through a head-mounted display or a handheld computing device. One drawback of such conventional AR/MR platforms is that the experience is user-specific. Moreover, these platforms require the user to wear and/or hold an expensive device, which can be cumbersome and alter interaction techniques.
Sit on Disney Research’s Magic Bench and you may have an elephant hand you a glowing orb. Or you might get rained on. Or a tiny donkey might saunter by and kick the bench.
It’s a combined augmented and mixed reality experience, but not the type that involves wearing a head-mounted display or using a handheld device. Instead, the surroundings are instrumented rather than the individual, allowing people to share the magical experience as a group.
People seated on the Magic Bench can see themselves in a mirrored image on a large screen in front of them, creating a third person 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.
“This platform creates a multi-sensory immersive experience in which a group can interact directly with an animated character,” said Moshe Mahler, principal digital artist at Disney Research. “Our mantra for this project was: hear a character coming, see them enter the space, and feel them sit next to you.”