Coloring is already fun and engaging for people of all ages, but Disney Research has developed an app that takes things to the next level by bringing people’s drawings to life. The augmented reality app allows users to capture real-time images from their smartphone’s camera and then map them onto a 3D deformable surface. Basically what this does is create a 3D image of the drawing on the smartphone, which sounds really cool, and I’m a bit disappointed that the app isn’t currently available to download anywhere.
With its Color Alive line, Crayola was the first company to merge coloring books and apps so kids could bring their on-page creations to life. But Disney Research is taking that idea one step further by letting kids see a coloring book character move in 3D while they’re still coloring it. It’s all made possible by a new augmented reality app that Disney Research has developed that’s able to track and capture real-time images from a mobile device’s camera, and then map them onto any 3D deformable surface. In the example above it’s a cartoon elephant whose pants are slowly being colored in, but it could just as easily be a castle getting new flags, or a space ship getting some battle damage. The app is still in the research phases so don’t expect to see it available for download or work with coloring books you can buy at the Disney Store just yet. But it’s a brilliant way to bridge the experience of coloring with crayons or pencils—which has yet to be perfectly recreated on a touchscreen device—with the apps and games that more readily grab a child’s attention these days.