The first patent involves a projector that would essentially theme a space (like a resort room) in any way Disney desires. The application is very technical and goes pretty far over my head, but it looks like a lamp or ceiling fixture would be fitted with apparatus allowing animated objects to appear around the space and, along with integrated audio, turn the room into an immersive, themed experience. As I understand it, it would be a lot like virtual reality games but your room would take the place of wearing VR goggles.
The possibilities are huge, both for good and, well, a bit evil. According to the Orlando Business Journal article,
The patent also looks at including a tracking camera that can be programmed to remember a user's facial features and then change the imagery to that person's settings — or in another case can be used to wake up a child by projecting images onto their bed.
Waking a child by projecting images onto his or her bed? That could be way too much fun.....
The second patent is an attempt to make animatronics, especially faces of speaking human animatronic figures, more life-like. The Imagineers have for decades been able to make very real seeming figures, such as those in the Hall of Presidents, but when they speak, the movement of the figures' mouths tend to give them away as robots. The most recent fix for this problem has been to leave the figure's head kind of a blank slate and project a moving, speaking image onto it. This works great on Buzz in is Space Ranger Spin, but apparently not as well on the new Frozen attraction in Epcot's Norway pavilion. No matter how well done, we are looking at two very different technologies and the realism isn't quite there.
Still, all three of these new ideas are completely in keeping with Disney's history. I am thrilled to see the Walt Disney Company continuing to follow in the footsteps of its founders by keeping on the cutting edge of entertainment technology.