Disney team adds digital features to traditional games, crafts

New York, Nov 10 (IANS) Using mobile devices to augment reality can enhance creative play and exploration for kids, say scientists at Disney Research.

To demonstrate their concept called “Augmented Creativity”, Disney researchers have developed several prototype apps that add computer-generated animation, sound and visuals to activities such as coloring books, scavenger hunts and team games that require physical interaction.

Exploring the world and new activities is what childhood is all about.

“Our research brings the seamless fusion of the real and virtual world together with an intelligent and creative gameplay. We believe that these concepts offer exciting virtual enhancements over real-world interactions,” explained Markus Gross, vice president at Disney Research.

In a prototype for a multi-player game, players each use a mobile tablet to track a virtual object as they move around and talk with each other to cooperatively frustrate an invading alien force.

They also developed a city-wide gaming framework, enabling the development of games such as scavenger hunts that get players outdoors, searching for interactive elements superimposed on buildings, parks and roads.

But “Augmented Creativity” is not just about play.

The researchers created a framework to help users write interactive narratives – a trickier task than standard storytelling because it requires the user to define and implement all possible interactions that someone might experience within the narrative.

Another app helps children grasp the concept of programming robots.

The child can programme the robot to perform certain behaviours and then use augmented reality to see not just how the robot behaves, but exactly how the program is being executed.

“Augmented reality can help children develop a deeper understanding of programming by making the dynamics of programme execution visible,” said Robert W Sumner, principal research scientist.

Another app, based on colouring, allows children to customize 3D animated characters simply by coloring them as they normally would in a coloring book.

The researchers presented their concept and related apps at the Symposium on Mobile Graphics and Interactive Applications in Kobe, Japan, recently.

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