Virtual reality

Our metaverse future? Theme parks are already on the case – Los Angeles Times

Summary

The promise of augmented reality so far has largely been just that — promises of a future seen through filters for our mobile phone apps or simple games that place characters with little movement on our camera screens. But if this whole metaverse thing — the concept of a persistent, evolving online world that we don’t log into as much as live inside — is ever going to take off, we’re going to need more.

Our theme parks, which increasingly are centered on the concepts of games…….

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The promise of augmented reality so far has largely been just that — promises of a future seen through filters for our mobile phone apps or simple games that place characters with little movement on our camera screens. But if this whole metaverse thing — the concept of a persistent, evolving online world that we don’t log into as much as live inside — is ever going to take off, we’re going to need more.

Our theme parks, which increasingly are centered on the concepts of games and play, may offer a glimpse of where the future is heading.

In the not too distant future Universal Studios Hollywood will import a “Mario Kart”-themed ride from Japan that is centered on augmented reality, an attraction designed to create the illusion that we’re interacting with virtual objects and characters. Unlike most AR-enhanced mobile phone apps, where the images are tailored to an individual’s screen, the use of visor-like glasses will allow all guests on the ride to engage with the digital creations in real-time.

And earlier this month the Walt Disney Co. quietly announced that it is “in conversations” with Illumix, a Redwood City, Calif.-based AR firm that has been rooted in games (“Five Nights at Freddy’s AR: Special Delivery”) and e-commerce but is quickly expanding into physical realms. Illumix tech offers a range of experiences, including entertainment that merges physical and digital effects as well as more personally grounded character interactions.

One of the demos previewed by Illumix as part of the experimental tech program Disney Accelerator just happened to show some over-the-top, vintage cartoon-inspired interactions in Mickey’s Toontown, an area of Disneyland that the company would later announce would be reimagined with more green space and a number of interactive, play-focused activities.

These were tech demos and shouldn’t be viewed as guarantees that any will show up in the park, but the proof-of-concept projects signal that an augmented reality-enhanced future is getting closer. Among the tantalizing scenes shown: an animated overlay in the Toontown area of the park with cartoon explosions intermingled with real-world smoke, a glimpse of Buzz Lightyear soaring around and through Disney California Adventure, and Minnie Mouse hanging out on a Main Street, U.S.A., balcony to offer birthday greetings to a young fan.

What impressed most about Illumix’s demos was the way in which the augmented reality characters appear to move with and understand their surroundings rather than appear like virtual stickers. Illumix founder Kirin Sinha says she has to be delicate in discussing her company’s potential collaborations with Disney, but she ultimately sees the gaming world continuing to influence physical spaces.

“It’s this idea that it’s constantly evolving — based on other people, your preferences, choices you made in the past, virtual events. We can take what’s happening in the digital content world and bring that to physical experiences,” Sinha says.

It’s …….

Source: https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/story/2021-11-18/ar-augmented-reality-is-an-opportunity-for-theme-parks