There's nary a Star Wars fan alive who hasn't at some point swung a makeshift lightsaber around while making their own "vwing" noises. While the Star Wars Trials on Tatooine VR game offers a nice little slice of fantasy fulfillment, a new patent awarded to Disney suggests that future visitors to Disneyland may get a more hands-on experience, using a physical lightsaber to deflect lasers fired at them by animatronic bad guys.
Rather than just watching a performance, the patent describes a complex "audience interaction projection system" which would be fitted into a venue to get the audience up and about, zapping animatronic performers on stage with lasers, thanks to objects handed out on their way into the theater.
In practice, those objects don't actually emit any light themselves, but the illusion of firing a laser beam comes from a series of hidden projectors and sensors around the room. As they beam light towards a visitor, a retroreflective material embedded in the object bounces it back, while particulates in the air, like water vapor, liquid nitrogen, or theatrical fog, makes it look like the light is emanating from the object itself. Multiple people can be tracked around the room by these same sensors.
Among the examples given are an animatronic performance, where visitors can hold up their amulet or whatever item they're given, and the robot on stage can react to the beams of light that streak towards it. This kind of show could potentially be given whatever skin Disney wants to apply from their huge roster of characters, but the most exciting thing in the whole document is the mention of a "faux lightsaber".
In this scenario, the visitor is equipped with a prop version of that iconic movie weapon, and must do battle with drones that fly overhead (or at least look like they do). The player has to wave a lightsaber around to deflect lasers fired at them back at the attacker, and sensors in the drones let it know when it's defeated. On the other hand, sensors in a suit worn by the player detect when a shot hits them, and sound effects and haptic feedback let players know when they've failed their Jedi training.
This isn't the first time we've seen drones feature in a Disney theme park patent: we're still waiting and hoping that those drone-driven giant marionettes see the light of day.
As with any patent, there's no guarantee these ideas will eventuate into real things, but with ground breaking earlier this year on Star Wars Land at Walt Disney World and Disneyland, this might just be an early glimpse at some of the attractions on offer.
Source: PatentYogi (PDF)
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