We recently unearthed a very interesting patent application for an innovative new ride system created by the nice folks over at Walt Disney Imagineering. In many ways this system could be a game changer, allowing guests to interact with attractions like never before.
Full Disclosure: This is a patent application. They are typically written in the broadest spectrum possible as to not let on to competitors what the specific plans for the system are as well to have the legal protection of the patent cover as many iterations or ideas as possible.
At it's essence, this is a ride vehicle you sit on straddling like a motorcycle or even a dragon (hmm) where by leaning (to the side, forward or backward) you can control the direction, speed, or height of whatever you are riding on in a virtual world.
The system works by using sensors (gyroscopes) integrated into the seat. The seats sits on a motion actuated base (think Indy or Dinosaur) that responds to your leaning by moving or angling itself to correspond to your movements. In different iterations of the patent application, the motion base can be attached to a track as well as projected images.
So let's blue sky some possible uses of this technology with in the works Disney rides.
Tron Light Cycle at Shanghai Disneyland
This idea is doubtful as the ride is currently already under construction, but adding a motion base platform to this launched roller coaster where you sit on a "motorcycle" would add a sense of control, freedom, and pitch and yaw that has never been done on a ride of this type.
Many rumors point to Avatar being similar to Soarin' . In this idea you would be able to feel like your were steering the dragon through this space as opposed to a static experience like on Soarin by replacing the large Soarin' screen with an Occulus Rift type VR headset. The tilting action of the motion base with the head tracking of a VR headset would be an amazing 1-2 punch of immersiveness to really bring you into the world of Pandora.
These are just a couple of ideas. The patent also mentions using the leaning element to free hands for interactive shooting game. You lean to turn in the direction or on the angle you want to to be and have your hands already free to shoot.
So there you have some new technology that Disney is hard at work developing and a few possible scenarios that would make for completely unique experiences. We have no inside information of how or when this system may see the light of the day, but..... I'm just sayin'- The ability to fly your own dragon wherever you like in a completely convincing and free 3d world. I could see even the biggest opponents of the Avatar expansion flying down to Florida to try that.
So what do you think? Excited about this possible new technology coming to an attraction at one of the Disney parks? What would you like to see it used for? Imagineer away!!!