Universal Parks and Resorts recently filed another patent which could shed more light on their plans for upcoming attractions. The patent references goggles that would combine the use of augmented reality and virtual reality.
As many know, virtual reality is when a device projects computer generated images to simulate a completely unreal environment. Augmented reality, on the other hand, superimposes images directly over the viewer’s real environment, so unreal images appear to exist in the real world. Universal’s patent is for a goggle system that would combine them both for a “mixed reality” experience.
The patent states: “Present embodiments relate to systems and methods of providing an augmented reality (AR) experience, a virtual reality (VR) experience, a mixed reality (e.g., a combination of AR and VR) experience, or a combination thereof, as part of an attraction, such as a thrill ride, in an amusement park or theme park. In certain embodiments, each ride passenger may be provided a pair of electronic goggles or eyeglasses to be worn during a cycle of the thrill ride. The electronic goggles may facilitate an AR experience, a VR experience, or a combination of both experiences. Thus, the electronic goggles may be referred to as AR/VR goggles.”
As far as how this system would be used, the patent gives us a few examples: “The graphics generation system may render AR/VR graphical images that may include, for example, an AR/VR image of a second mall of amusement park facilities, an AR/VR image of one or more fictional characters, an AR/VR image of a breach of the tracks, and/or additional AR/VR image. In one embodiment, the AR/VR image may include an image of a monster or other similar fictional character appearing (e.g., from the point of view of the ride passengers while wearing the electronic goggles) to be obstructing a portion of the tracks as the passenger ride vehicle traverses the tracks.”
The patent doesn’t specify what attractions the system would be used on, of course, or even in which parks. Given that a Mario Kart ride has been announced for Super Nintendo World in Universal Studios Japan when it opens in 2020, that could be the perfect place to debut this technology. With how versatile this system appears to be, it is doubtful it would be restricted to one attraction.
As for why this technology was created, the patent explains: “Outside of providing an increasingly complex system of steep, twisting, and winding rollercoaster tracks, the thrill factor of such rollercoasters and/or other similar thrill rides may be limited to the existing course or physical nature of the thrill ride itself. It is now recognized that it is desirable to include components of interest and thrill factors in such attractions in a flexible and efficient manner relative to traditional techniques.”
Augmented or virtual reality could also make it possible to update attractions and retain guest interest without large renovation projects.
Source: Orlando Business Journal
Images: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office