Disney Files Patent for Location-Based Experience with Interactive Merchandise

Another Disney patent hints at another virtual, interactive experience that may be coming to Disney parks. The patent, filed by Disney on July 6, 2017 and published January 11, 2018, is for a “location-based experience with interactive merchandise.”

The experience looks to be a stationary physical location with established boundaries, as shown in the diagram below. There will be a defined “game-player zone” for players participating in the interactive experience (area 108 on the diagram). Players (the circles indicated by 110) will enter the defined “game-player zone” with some type of “toy” (the “interactive merchandise”), which may may include gloves or hand coverings, items of clothing, headwear, mobile devices, or an item carried by the player. The player zone may have a rear wall or barrier (106) to separate active players from spectators and to better control the environment for light, sound and weather.

The system will generate virtual targets (“such as projections, holograms or displays of one or more of various fantasy virtual adversaries”) within a separate, defined “theatrical zone” (area 116 on the above diagram). The theatrical zone may also include physical elements and set pieces. It will have a front window (104) and a rear wall (114).

The system may use infrared, RFID and LIDAR technology (LIDAR, or Light Detection and Ranging, uses pulsed laser light to measure distances between two points; it’s used in some autonomous car applications, as well as surveying, meteorology and many other industries), as well as cameras and recognition systems. These sensors will detect the location and movements of players and their “toys,” and generate effects on the target based on their actions. Effects can be visual, audio, tactile, and smell/taste.

It seems as though a player would enter the game zone with their “toy”, and the system will display a “virtual adversary.” The player’s actions will be detected by sensors and translate to effects on the adversary. The patent gives an example and illustration of “a fictional character that has ‘magical powers'”, wears a certain type of gloves, and uses certain gestures (extending their arms and pointing all fingers at a target) to immobilize a target. If a player is wearing those gloves and uses that gesture, they’d see ice particles streaming toward the enemy and freezing him in a block of ice.

Multiple players can attack the same target, and each player or toy may be able to generate multiple different powers based on which gesture the player uses. Players may also be able to use more than one toy; for instance, the patent states, “one player may have both a glove of power and a ray-gun. The player can use both toys simultaneously during the game.”

The system will collect information to keep score, and it may also collect historical data on players and alter the game-play experience based on a player’s past results.

Further, the system may use RFID and LIDAR to detect guests in the area who could become players and alert them that they can join the experience. The patent refers to this as a “sixth-sense subsystem”, which could use a speaker-aiming control system that would point a speaker directly at the potential player and play audio to invite the potential player into the experience.

The experience seems like it would fit perfectly into Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, but based on the descriptions in the patent, could be applied to create experiences in other parks and/or Disney Springs/Downtown Disney based on other IPs such as Marvel or even Frozen.

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