For decades, Disney’s Haunted Mansion attraction has given visitors the impression a ghost was sitting with them on their way out of the ride. You look in a mirror and the ghost is seemingly sitting right beside you in your seat.
A new project by Disney Research presented at SIGGRAPH 2017 recently showed a way to produce a similar but more immersive effect using a regular camera, a depth camera, audio, and even haptic effects.
The regular cameras captures the scene while the depth camera makes it possible to make a 3D map of the space as well as all the objects and people in it. A large television screen displays the scene with dynamic digital elements added. The resulting scene seamlessly combines digital characters and effects like rain with whatever people in the scene are doing. There are even “haptic actuators” on the underside of the bench to provide a physical response when one of these digital elements interacts with the bench.
AR tech is on the rise with Apple’s ARKit expected to enable fairly convincing insertion of digital objects into scenes as seen through the iPhone camera. The effect from Disney Research, however, is set apart by the haptic feedback and the use of the depth camera that can make interactions between the real world and digital elements more nuanced.