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3-D with no glasses

More Inclusive Magic? Disney Patents Glasses-Free 3-D Technology

It appears that Disney World attractions could reach a whole new level of technological innovation and accessibility. A recent patent suggests Walt Disney Imagineers are developing a ride technology that could create a 3-D virtual reality experience without the need for 3-D glasses.

From MuppetVision 3-D and Mickey’s Philharmagic to Star Tours and Avatar: Flight of Passage, Walt Disney Imagineers have led the way in creating 3-D and 4-D virtual realities that create deeply immersive experiences for Disneyland and Disney World Guests. But, they have always required glasses. And believe it or not, the necessity for 3-D glasses unintentionally created an accessibility barrier for some Guests.

Flight of Passage

Flight of Passage Credit: Disney

The condition is called stereo-blindness, and it affects or prevents a person from being able to see objects in three dimensions due to a misalignment of his or her eyes. This is thought to affect 5-12% of the population and famously includes former Disney star, Johnny Depp.

According to the Vision Care and Therapy Center,

“Normal vision merges the two slightly different images that are captured within each eye into one three-dimensional image. When one has stereo-blindness, his or her eyes fail to collaborate with one another in order to form a normal 3D image of whatever is being looked at.”

Current 3-D technology requires its consumers to already have the proper “image capturing” capabilities in order for it to function. Hence, the iconic glasses. But it looks like that is all about to change.

Muppet*Vision 3D

Credit: Disney

According to the application, which was filed on May 27, Disney wishes to patent “a system creating an autostereoscopic augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), or other visual display experience involving 3D images, presented to a viewer without glasses or other head-gear.”

Specs of the new technology show that a “stereo image” is still being created by lining up a rider’s right eye and left eye viewpoints, and Disney explains, “A controller operates the projector assembly to project left and right eye images toward the projection screen. the left and right eye images are then directed to left and right eye positions so a viewer with eyes positioned at the left and right eye positions perceives a virtual object concurrently with light from the physical scenic space.”

Disney Patent Concept

Credit: Disney

Related: Patent Reveals More Info on Disney’s Polynesian Resorts’ New DVC Villas

Admittedly, it appears that any attraction built with this technology will still require its riders to utilize their own binocular vision. But there is hope in that the lack of glasses allows other ones to be used instead. They are called “Stereo Glasses,” and they are corrective lenses that allow stereoblind people to see in 3-D. Johnny Depp himself has been photographed wearing his own pair of stereo glasses countless times, almost disguised as sunglasses. While the images will undoubtedly still look different, it is the ability to use the corrective lenses that make this patent a step forward both in its technological development and accessibility.

Johnny Depp

Credit: Britannica

It should be mentioned, though, that no specific project has been confirmed to be utilizing this technology yet. When it eventually manifests inside a Theme Park, it will be a 3-D experience accessible to more people than ever before.

We at Disney Fanatic will continue to update our readers on Disney Parks news and stories as more developments come to light.

About T.K. Bosacki

TK is a writer and editor based in Tampa, FL with a passion for all things Disney, and adventure.