Get All Access for $5/mo

Feel This: Disney Wants to Bring Virtual Objects Into the Real World. Sort Of. Disney doesn't just do cartoons. Its researchers are developing something that can make motion-controlled devices more immersive for users.

By Jason Fell

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Think Mickey Mouse would get a kick out of playing Fruit Ninja on a computer screen, slicing lemons and watermelons with a simple wave of his hand? Whether or not Mickey is a gamer, Disney Research in Pittsburgh is developing a new technology called Aireal that would enable users of hands free, motion-controlled devices such as the Microsoft Kinect or Leap Motion to actually feel the virtual objects they're manipulating.

Yes, Disney does more than just cartoons. If you're not familiar at all with Disney Research, it was launched in 2008 as an informal network of research labs that collaborate with academic institutions such as Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. It has labs in places like Los Angeles, Boston and Zurich, and is developing a ton of far-out technologies.

The idea behind Aireal is that if you touch or hit an object virtually, you should be able to have some time of real-world reaction to further engage you in the game or program you're using. Disney's Aireal system is made of modules that track a set target -- such as a person's hand -- and project puffs of air that can hit the target at a specific time. 3-D cameras watch your every move and a nozzle can shoot bursts of air in your direction, within about five feet or so.

So when combined with a separate gesture-controlled system, like the Leap Motion system which launched this month, Disney says these bursts of air can be timed -- get this -- so they reach a user's hands at the same moment as an on-screen object would if it were real, according to a report in Gizmag. "By using vortices of air rather than simple air jets, the device can provide a tactile sensation over longer distances and with much greater accuracy," the report says.

While making the hands-free experience more immersive and interactive sounds smart, it feels like this particular technology is still a ways off. Disney researchers say they don't have immediate plans to implement Aireal into any existing products but they hope to someday be able to manipulate the vortices of air to create 3-D objects in mid-air. That could be very cool. If you could see them, that is.

You can click through the links here to take a peek at all the crazy projects that Disney Research has in motion.

Jason Fell

VP, Native Content

Jason Fell is the VP of Native Content, managing the Entrepreneur Partner Studio, which creates dynamic and compelling content for our partners. He previously served as's managing editor and as the technology editor prior to that.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Side Hustle

The Side Hustle He Started in His College Apartment Turned Into a $70,000-a-Month Income Stream — Then Earned Nearly $2 Million Last Year

Kyle Morrand and his college roommates loved playing retro video games — and the pastime would help launch his career.

Business News

Homeowners in These 10 States Pay the Most in 'Hidden' Upkeep Costs

Hidden home costs pile on top of mortgage payments.

Growing a Business

5 Books to Help You Motivate, Unify and Build Perspective

In a post-Covid world, check out these must-read books to help build a more resilient organization, create a modern work culture and maintain a powerful growth mindset.

Money & Finance

Avoid These 10 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make with Money

Despite the challenging statistic that only 5% of startups survive beyond five years, common financial pitfalls often contribute to their failure. Through personal observation, I've identified the prevalent financial mistakes made by entrepreneurs.

Growing a Business

How Visionary Leaders Transform Curiosity Into Groundbreaking Ideas

Lee Brian Schrager, founder of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, discusses the spark that launched FoodieCon, his best practices for running popular food events, and why all business owners need to adapt to social media trends.

Making a Change

Learn All of Rosetta Stone's Languages for $152

A lifetime subscription is nearly $250 off for a limited time.