One of the most exciting areas for patent filings by leading tech powerhouses is VR (virtual reality). The technological advances are steaming ahead, with companies like Apple, Sony and Disney filing patents that show various enhancements to current VR experiences, and tantalising details that could show where it’s heading.
Plenty of areas of this constantly emerging sector of technology are protected by patents. At the beginning of the year, there were more than 3,000 patents filed for audio and display devices for VR. And Disney has added to their increasing pile of patent applications with their latest offering, filed on 6 August 2018 and Luke Rehbein discusses this in further detail:
The new patent filing from Disney is for what they’ve called “moving floor” technology. The idea is that when users are immersed in a VR experience, the floor moves with them to ensure they aren’t jolted out of the submersion.
The patent shows three different ways that the sensation of a walking infinitely in a small area could be created:
Using vibration technology to create friction for the user’s feet. It will slow down or speed up to vary the sensation, allowing the platform to influence the user and nudge them in the right direction so they avoid walking into walls or other users.
Using rotating disks that tilt to influence the user’s direction. Each disk can rotate by itself, or altogether to help guide the user away from any obstructions that might exist in the room.
Using magnets on the shoes of the user, and at the same time on a kind of treadmill directly underneath the floor. When the user walks, the magnetic treadmill will kick in, meaning that the person could walk infinitely but stay in the same physical location.
Invested in tech
Disney is heavily invested in VR and has various attractions already on offer at Disney Parks, including The VOID at Disney Springs. They are also prolific patent filers, with 195 granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office by the end of 2016.
Earlier in 2018, Disney unveiled the Force Jacket that is designed to allow users to feel real, physical sensations while immersed in VR experiences. The jacket consists of 26 airbags and force sensors that are able to direct force and high frequency vibrations to the wearer.
At Dawn Ellmore Employment, we follow patents being filed on both sides of the Atlantic. It allows us to stay up-to-date in an ever-evolving sector, which helps us to find the ideal role for Intellectual Property (IP) professionals.
We’re always interested to see what Disney is up to, as their patents often point the way towards the future of entertainment experiences. Utilising AR and VR, they seem set to revolutionise the way Disney customers experience their many beloved big-name brands.
Enhancing Star Wars AR
Since Disney bought Star Wars from Lucas Films, it has also cropped up on patent applications for VR and AR technology. In May 2018, Disney Enterprises filed a patent that shows possible new additions to AR Star Wars entertainment experiences, such as expanding the already available Jedi Challenges video game.
The patent is called ‘Augmented Reality Interactive Experience’ and talks about a network app that runs on a head-mounted display (HMD) and a computer. It also talks about infrared-based peripherals to further enhance gameplay, and an AR Venue, where presumably the experience would take place. It further explains that it could be possible for a smartphone to be used as a display, or detector.
Whether either of these patents evolve into real-life tech remains to be seen, it looks like Disney will be pushing the technology envelope for the foreseeable future.
About the Author
Luke Rehbein is an Associate Director, Patent and Trade Mark Recruitment Specialist at Dawn Ellmore Employment. Dawn Ellmore Employment was incorporated in 1995 and is a market leader in intellectual property and legal recruitment.