Disney Research Develops Immersive Experience Called Aireal

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Disney Research

Who better than Disney research to tempt gamers with fantastic (or even fantasy) technology? Many a visitor to the eponymous theme parks goes home wishing a little of that wonderment could be owned for a reasonable price. And now it looks like some really sensational sensory tech could just fit that bill. Disney has developed a system it calls Aireal (a name more than vaguely reminiscent of a certain mermaid) that uses jets of air and motion sensors to give a player the sensation he's batting a ball back with his hand or feeling birds flying by as they come off a 3-D screen. No special controllers or gloves are required. You just move your hands and your body. Disney calls this "free air tactile feedback technology." Of course, moneywise it won't be free. Disney says it will be "low cost" and ubiquitous. We'll see. Meanwhile, Extremetech.com's James Plafke poses some interesting questions: Can you feel the tiny bursts of air on your body if you're wearing clothes? "Will Aireal be a strictly shirtless affair, making it the ultimate college party game device?" At a minimum it could change the way we see—and feel—the world we live in.