No one in this day and age should be afraid of “learning electronics,” even if it’s only to give the next generation the best experiences growing up.
A new Disney project called HideOut is a novel camera-projector setup that will undoubtedly awe users and spark inquisitive imaginations to ask about how it works. The device consists of a Microvision ShowWX focus-free projector and a Point Grey Flea3 IR-sensitive camera with IR filter to provide very accurate tracking. The entire prototype device is handheld at the moment, but Disney dreams of putting it inside a smartphone to unleash even more possibilities.
Disney’s HideOut brings white pages to life. More specifically, it projects dynamically modified imaging onto surfaces encrypted with markers printed with infrared absorbent ink, but they are not quite invisible. The user experience is essentially a “spotlight” interaction with a surface that appears to be blank to the naked eye but is visible to the camera and computer to properly project all sorts of interactive images.
Check out a video and an image gallery here.
The camera and infrared absorbent ink markings serve to measure the projecting angle against any flat surface and as pieces of code recognized by computer programs. First, the team assumes that the user will be pointing the projector aligned with his or her line of sight. Pre-distorted imagery is then projected at the surface to give the 2D projections a 3D geometry with appropriate proportions, a process called "anamorphic projection." The camera-to-surface angle measurement and the corresponding projection distortion are calculated dynamically in real-time so the user can move the device to explore the virtual environment.
Imagery that uses regular ink does not interfere with the IR camera, so printed pictures function in creating an interactive scene on a 2D plane as long as there are IR markers recognizable to the camera. The resulting possible environments make paper more engaging than ever before. The Disney team has developed just a few of many possible applications for HideOut.
A simple image viewer is set up using only a white surface with painted square borders that frame the projected pictures. The user can explore with HideOut’s spotlight projection to explore the picture-viewing surface or simply scroll through pages of photos while HideOut lies on its side. 3D MRI scans that move through layers of a person’s brain can be viewed with HideOut. Eventually, this device will be small enough to fit in a doctor’s smartphone, and only a white surface will be needed to view a scan.
A bug-hunting game plays on HideOut’s spotlight characteristic. In the game, players shine the HideOut at different parts of a seemingly empty map to find hiding bugs and shoot them down.
Another game drops characters directly onto the board to play. Flat or 3D game pieces, with images visible to the players, are dropped in front of the virtual characters to interact with them and help them move about the board. Game pieces like trampolines can help the character jump over a wall that has been erected by the opposing player.