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Disney HideOut brings storybooks to life

Disney Research has created a smartphone projector system that brings flat surfaces to life using invisible infrared ink.

(Credit: Disney Research)

Disney Research has created a smartphone projector system that brings flat surfaces to life using invisible infrared ink.

If Apple is about to start building projectors into iOS devices, Disney just might have the very first app. Using infrared ink, the company's research division in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has created a smartphone projector that can bring flat surfaces to life, with characters that can interact with their environment.

The projector itself consists of two parts: an infrared camera to pick up the invisible markers, and the projector. It operates much the same way augmented-reality (AR) games work on a smartphone or Nintendo 3DS. The camera picks up the marker, which sends information to the app; for example, one marker might indicate a wall that characters have to move around, while another — as shown in the video below — indicates a mud puddle, so the character leaves footprints.

What the human eye sees (top) and what the infrared camera sees.(Credit: Disney Research)

Rather that what augmented-reality apps currently do, though — that is, show you an image of the space through the camera with a digital image superimposed — the projector sends that image directly onto the surface.

The gadget isn't limited to storybooks, either. Potential applications could include creating an animated board game, playing video games directly on a wall or even simply just sharing holiday snaps.

It looks much more impressive in action. Check it out for yourself in the video below.

Via www.disneyresearch.com