Most evenings at a Disney theme park end with a fireworks show. To help the visually impaired and blind share in this experience, researchers at the Disney Research Lab in Zurich have developed a new type of firework. Instead of seeing the fireworks, visitors can feel them.
“Tactile effects are created using directable water jets that spray onto the rear of a flexible screen, with different nozzles for different firework effects,” according to Disney.
The approach is also low cost. Studies show that the visual effects of a fireworks display can actually be followed with the tactile effects. Thanks to the technology, large scalable tactile displays could be developed with a potential for use beyond theme parks.
Disney calls itself “one of the world’s leading innovators in pyrotechnics”. For instance, a technology was developed for its theme park in Paris to make its firework shows quieter. Disney even donated the licence to a non-profit organization so the entire pyrotechnics industry could benefit.
Zurich is the only location outside the U.S. where the American media group actively conducts R&D. More than 100 scientists research the digital future of media and entertainment in the lab, which was founded in 2008. Disney Research collaborates closely with the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich.