Disney Research recently unveiled a coloring book app that can give 2-D characters in the book a 3-D form while the child is still coloring them. In a short video, you can see a kid coloring an elephant, while on a smartphone or tablet screen the animal seems to come to life with help from augmented reality.
The colors on the 3-D elephant model displayed on the screen are filled in real-time and the elephant’s back is colored automatically by the app by taking into account the colors used by the kid on the 2-D model. The process is far from perfect but it is still impressive.
The app’s creators hope that their program may make coloring even more engaging by adding an extra layer of technology-powered ‘magic.’ In a short trial, app creators learned that most of adults who tested the app reported feeling more engaged in the activity, while 80 percent said that they felt more connected with the character they were coloring.
The app was first unveiled in Japan at the IEEE International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality (ISMAR 2015). Though the app was only recently unveiled to the tech world, the idea behind it was used earlier this year in Disney Publishing Worldwide’s “Disney Color and Play.”
The app is part of a larger project at Disney Research dubbed Augmented Creativity. According to researchers the project aims at enhancing creative play using augmented reality and 3-D technologies.
Robert W. Sumner, head of the team that designs animations and interactive graphics in the project, said that the new technologies may create a ‘bridge’ between reality and digital experiences.
Disney Research team explained that they first had to create 3-D models of the characters and then create 2-D models for the coloring book based on those characters. The app can automatically detect which character the user is coloring and display it automatically.
As the child progresses with coloring, the app uses the same colors on the 3-D model. Then the app creates the illusion that the user also colors the parts of the character unavailable on the coloring book such as the sides and back.
But creating the illusion was one of the most challenging tasks for the team since colors differ on a character’s face and back of the head. So relying on user input was not enough to solve the problem. Eventually, researchers had the idea of creating a ‘lookup map’ that matches pixels from the back to those provided by the user.
Image Source: Flickr
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