There’s no denying that Disney has faced its fair share of challenges throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The company even reported net quarterly losses of $4.72 billion in December 2020 and grappled with the closure of its amusement parks for extended periods of time.
But while the pandemic has created new obstacles and uncertainty for the parks, Disney continues to seek ways of innovating its “magical” experiences.
This week, a new Disney patent application was published for a costume head that aims to improve performer and guest interaction and enhance optical viewfinder systems for costumed characters.
About the Patent Application
Disney’s patent application, titled “Optical Viewfinder for Costume Heads,” demonstrates an optical viewfinder system within a costume head to improve the performer’s field of view. A non-inverting optical relay is installed within the costume head, where the optical input is set a distance vertically and or horizontally from the performer’s eye location. The optical relay acts as a periscope for and thereby improves on the performer’s field of view.
whAT THE INVENTION WOULD DO
Traditionally when designing a character costume, eye slits must be incorporated to allow the performer to see while the costume is being worn. The optical viewfinder can essentially move the performer’s eyes to the view slit of the character to achieve a wider field of view. This method is superior to a video input to the performer because the nature of the optical signal allows for a relay for each eye and achieves stereo vision.
why This Patent Application is Interesting
The use of optical relays to move the performer’s view location better corresponds with the costume and provides a huge improvement to the way performers can use their costumes and interact with audiences. Prior methods would require performers to offset their view from the view slit to make it appear the costume was interacting with the audience.
The proposed optical relay system provides human performers with the same perceived vision as the character of the costume, allowing the performs to interact with the audience more easily as the character. Additionally, this optical system can be performed without electronics and without any latency to the performer. According to the patent application, this is an important improvement as “camera latency causes conflicts between the viewed scene and the proprioception/vestibular systems, which often leads to dizziness of the performer 120 and reduced agility.”
“Imagineering” & Engineering
Disney and its well-known R&D Imagineering subsidiary, continues to seek innovative ways of providing interactive and “magical experiences” for guests. In March of 2021, a patent application was published for the company that hinted at utilizing machine learning models to create “roleplaying experiences” through conversational agents, like chatbots. This application, like the optical viewfinder, provides yet another means to close the imaginative gap between a character and human experience.
Written by John DeStefano, Technical Advisor
and Lauren Hawksworth, Marketing Administrator
April 1, 2021