Disney app creates AR characters from drawings

by Ian Hamilton • October 6th, 2015

Imagine a coloring book in which the characters pop off the page and come to life after a child is done coloring. This impressive augmented reality functionality was recently demonstrated by Disney Research, potentially previewing a neat way for coloring books to serve as the foundation of 3D digital content created by kids.

Researchers in Switzerland outlined the work in a paper (summary, PDF) and video linked in this post that offers a tantalizing look at what kids might be able to do with their drawings in the near future. From the paper’s abstract:

We present an augmented reality coloring book App in which children color characters in a printed coloring book and inspect their work using a mobile device. The drawing is detected and tracked, and the video stream is augmented with an animated 3-D version of the character that is textured according to the child’s coloring.

The research outlines methods that allow a child’s unique coloring of a figure to translate in real-time into the shading of a 3D-modeled character that can be seen wiggling or dancing above the page. Picture a child coloring in an octopus in whatever ways he or she wants and then holding an iPad over the page to see the same octopus, colored in the patterns the child chose, wiggling in 3D over the page.

The researchers hope their work provides “a bridge between real-world activities and digital enhancements” and that their methods “have the potential to impact many more applications in the field of visual computing.”

If the research can really produce augmented reality coloring books that work as reliably as the video suggests, it’s easy to imagine a future not too far off where you can sit down with your traditional writing utensils and sketch something out only to have it pop off the page and come to life right before your eyes.

 

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