When Disney opens 14-acre Star Wars areas in California and Florida in the coming years, there's no doubt everything will be state of the art. In fact, a new patent suggests they have figured out a new way to make lightsabers work in the real world, but maybe not in the way you think. A website called PatentYogi alerted us to a patent application, filed by Disney Enterprises, for something called an "Audience Interaction Projection System". It's obviously very technical, but it looks like Disney has created a system that would enable fans to deflect laser beams in real time, live in the park.
The system would likely have other uses too but, in the patent, this photo in particular seems telling.
To explain this image, the document says the following:
An entertainment environment has a user with a faux light saber that interacts with a drone flying through the air or operated with hidden rods to appear as if its flying through the air. The faux light saber has LEDs attached thereto to provide IR light to the drone. As an LED is turned on, an invisible light sensor built into the drone captures an image of the field of view with a bright spot at the position of the activated LED. A visible light source built into the drone then projects light through particulate matter toward the faux light saber. As a result, the uses is provided with the illusion that the faux light saber has deflected a laser beam. Multiple LEDs can be activated in sequence at various times to give user the impression that the movement by the users of the faux light saber is deflecting multiple laser beams.
That's a lot of technical nonsense but it's basically saying, using this system, park attendees can deflect beams with their lightsabers. Drones will send light through matter (fog or something) so you can see it, and then the sabers will send it back.
It's important to note that while it seems likely this tech is something they'd implement in the Star Wars sections of Disneyland and Walt Disney World that are currently under construction, that's just an educated guess. The patent was filed eight months before Disney made the official announcement of the parks. It could also be some kind of toy, but the use of hidden drones definitely doesn't scream "backyard".
"We continuously innovate and file hundreds of patents that may or may not have any business unit application," said a Disney Parks representative. "We have nothing to announce about this at this time."
No matter what, this is insanely cool. The only thing that could be cooler would be if Disney figured out a way to get pure light to grow out of a metal hilt at the touch of a button and stop midair. But this is a start.