Disney has a science research wing. And it

Walt Disney

Disney has a science research wing. And it's f@*%!#g epic!

A robot that can walk up walls. Sounds like something you'd expect from Google's Boston Dynamics or even Megabots, the giant-fighting robot guys. But it's actually a Disney creation. And no, it's not for a movie.

When the Disney's TechStar Accelerator project yielded amazing low-cost bionic limbs for kids, the world took notice. But that was just Disney incubating promising startups. Turns out, Disney are all about awesome science research.

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They even have a separate wing, Disney Research, dedicated to just that. Comprised of a network of international research labs, their goal is simple - push the scientific and technological forefront of innovation. And they're succeeding.

Here are 5 epic Disney Research projects that will make sure you never see Disney the same way again:

01

VertiGo - The robot-on-wheels that can climb walls

VertiGo is the latest innovation from Disney Research and it is absolutely epic.
While most robotic labs are designing (and struggling) to design robots that can cope with an urban and indoor environment, VertiGo is revolutionary.
Not only is it kitted out with wheels to navigate a normal urban environment, it has two thrusters that allow it to transition seamlessly onto walls. And then scale them. The propellers are tiltable, allowing the robot to mount a wall, and then propel it up and away in ways that would make Spiderman hang up his costume.

02

Augmented Creativity - When the real and virtual combine

Books can bring entire worlds alive. And now, Disney Research's Augmented Creativity is trying to go a step further and actually turn books into 3D playgrounds. Disney's innovation takes the basic concept of augmented reality, where real-world environments are digitally, well, augmented, and applies it in incredible ways.

Through their tech, they're able to capture images from books and turn them into 3D. The tech is even able to detect drawing and colouring and turn it into animated 3D in real-time, bringing alive the now-stale colouring book for today's tech-immersed kids.

03

Super sensitive 3D printed robot skin - For Skynet's eventual rule...

Disney Research seem to love robots. So much so that they've now come up with epic 3D printed skin for robots. The soft 'skin' isn't just to protect the delicate inner mechanics of the robot. The airtight cavity within responds to air pressure, enabling the robot to hold delicate objects.

That should come in handy when the robots have to wrap their robotic death fingers around our delicate throats, but the actual aim is a lot more noble. The goal is to produce robots that are able to safely interact with children. Disney is even working on producing kid-friendly bipedal robots based on its animated characters. Seems cool...though it could just be the embarrassing backstory behind theT-1000.

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04

Interactive 3-D printable robot design

Yeah, when the robot uprising does begin, you can rest assured that Disney Research will be the harbinger of the end. Their scientists just can't get enough when it comes to robots.

Their Zurich wing, the same one that created VertiGo, have also come up with a design system that allows laymen to create mobile 3D printable robots. The programme not only comes with preset designs, it allows the user to modify the morphology, proportions, style of motion, and even the gait of these designs. The programme accordingly customises the presets to make them functionally mobile.

05

FaceDirector - A way to help Aishwarya Rai manage a decent on-screen performance

FaceDirector is something that's a lot closer to Disney's more known interests. The software blends separate frames from separate movie takes to create a brand new take based on the directors liking. For a movie studio looking to save money, the programme is genius, allowing for far fewer takes.

It sounds like something that would require facial recognition and motion capture software, but that's the best part - it doesn't. The software even works with basic 2D cam footage.

It's something that's hard to visualise, so make sure you watch the video.

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Ranjan Crasta

Ranjan Crasta @jah_crastafari