Now children can see their favorite characters that they draw and color on a coloring book come alive in 3D augmented reality thanks to a new smartphone app by researchers at Disney, ETH Zurich and the Swiss university EPFL.
A child has to color a character, such as an elephant, on the book page normally, while a tablet or smartphone running the app monitors the drawing. Based on the child's coloring, the app fills in colors in real-time on an animated 3D version of the elephant that is visible on the device's screen and is integrated into the video.
Robert W. Sumner, a principal research scientist who leads the group on animation and interactive graphics at Disney Research, said, "Augmented reality holds unique and promising potential to bridge between real-world activities and digital experiences, allowing users to engage their imagination and boost their creativity."
The app, operating on a device with a camera views the user and the coloring book, and automatically detects the character the user is coloring and displays the 3D version. As the child applies color to the 2D drawing, the app applies the same color to the 3D character, both to the areas visible in the 2D drawing and to the remainder of the 3D form that is not visible in the book.
Because the coloring occurs in real-time, it creates an illusion that the user is also coloring the occluded areas, with similar texturing of the color. In user testing, performed with adults rather than children, the researchers said, "Most users said the app increased their motivation to draw in coloring books and 80% said that the app increased their feeling of connection to a character."
The reality app was augmented at the IEEE International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality (ISMAR 2015) in Fukuoka, Japan.