Apparatus for controlling an animated figure

United States Patent 5870842

An animated figure method and apparatus including an animated figure having moveable elements and a base unit for supporting the animated figure. The apparatus of the present invention includes multiple control cables, a first end of each control cable connects to a cable driver assembly or cable driver mounted on the base unit and a second end of each control cable attaches to a corresponding animated figure moveable element or assembly. The cable drivers that are attached to the base unit drive the control cables, and propel the animated figure's moveable elements. The present invention achieves detailed control of many animated figure functions using intricate control cable branching which may require many bends in the control cable. In addition, a walk mechanism provides both horizontal and vertical movement of the animated figure's feet to achieve simulated stepping movements in a very realistic manner. Further, the walk mechanism in combination with a motion base allows the animated figure of the preferred embodiment to move about a set, such as a stage, by dancing, walking, running or other movements, thereby increasing the overall animation presentation significantly.

Latent-image projection system and method

United States Patent 5793470

A latent image projection system, and related method, for displaying entertaining visual effects and optical illusions by projecting a polarization-encoded latent image onto a polarization-preserving viewing screen. The latent image is revealed using a polarized analyzer having its polarization direction aligned with a polarization direction associated with the latent image. A "magic window" special effect is produced by sizing the analyzer to reveal only a portion of the latent image. A Pepper's Ghost image is created by orienting a dielectric plate so that its surface analyzes the latent image on the screen and superimposes it onto the image of a real object. A dielectric surface, such as a pond of water, placed between a viewer and the screen will analyze and reveal the latent image when the viewer views the reflection of the screen on the surface of the water. Selectively viewable subtitles for a movie are created by polarization encoding the light that illuminates the movie's film with alphanumeric images. The latent alphanumeric message are perceptible only to viewers viewing the screen using an analyzer.

Inflatable motion base

United States Patent 5769725

The invention regards an inflatable motion base for moving one or more loads, such as objects or riders, through various degrees of freedom, and a simulator employing the motion base. The invention includes a plurality of modular, inflatable cells on a foundation that serves as a structure to provide reaction forces, the cells being adjacent to each other and joined along their load-bearing surfaces with interlaced bungee cords. Each cell is connected to a high volume manifold through an inlet. The inlets each include an actuator controlling a butterfly valve to control the airflow into the cell. A plurality of pumps maintain the manifold pressure. Each cell is also provided with an exhaust passage, which includes an actuator controlling a butterfly valve to control the airflow out of the cell. The exhaust passages connect to tubes that direct the exhaust to blow on the cell load-bearing surfaces. The foundation houses manifolds, inlets, exhaust passages, pumps, and sound dampening material. An automated control system, including positional feedback, controls the cell inlets and exhaust passages, as well as devices to provide an active visual and audio presentation, water spray, scents, moving light beams, and induced vibrations.

Virtual easel

United States Patent 5671091

An improved computer graphic work station is disclosed of the type that includes a digitizer for allowing an artist or other user to input a drawing into a computer, and an imaging device to produce an image of the drawing as it is being drawn. A beam splitter reflects at least a portion of the produced image to the eye of the user. The position and orientation of the beam splitter may be varied by a user relative to the imaging device in order to allow the user to align the workstation by causing the reflected image to appear, in the user's eye, to be substantially coincident with the drawing. Once aligned, the user may adjust the position and orientation of the digitizing surface without upsetting the alignment.

Three dimensional virtual image system

United States Patent 5585967

A method and apparatus for display of a three dimensional virtual image is provided. The present invention allows one or more objects, real images and virtual images to be displayed at one or more of an arbitrary number of depth levels along a viewer's line of sight. The present invention uses a plurality of beam splitters organized as an optical labyrinth to combine a images with the proper perspective and parallax to result in a three dimensional image.

Method and apparatus for displaying an alpha channel virtual image

United States Patent 5421589

The present invention is directed to a method and apparatus for displaying a virtual image and for providing control over the "alpha channel" or transparency of the virtual image. The present invention uses a beam splitter to provide a virtual image to a viewer. Behind the beam splitter is a liquid crystal region for controlling the transparency of the virtual image. Behind the liquid crystal region is a background image. Control of the liquid crystal region is coordinated with control of the virtual image so as to make transparency and opacity of the liquid crystal region follow the portions of the virtual image that are intended to be transparent and opaque, respectively.

Negative bust illusion and related method

United States Patent 5407391

A negative bust illusion is formed of a surface (representing a negative of an object) that presents a concave side to viewers to generate an illusion that the object always gazes at viewers as they move within an enlarged field of view. The negative bust is analogous to a mold of the object, with its depth flattened to impart a wider effective range the illusion. The rigid shell has a cavity that defines the bust and is formed of a thin, translucent styrene material such that rear projection is readily imparted to the convex side for imparting animation to the gaze effect.

Marine mammal communication device

United States Patent 5392735

An innovative communication device and learning tool that enables marine mammals, such as dolphins, to communicate with humans and with each other. The communication device includes a keyboard having a plurality of hollow keys. Each key includes a switch which can be activated by the dolphin, and a two- or three-dimensional object which can be distinguished by dolphins from other objects in other keys both visually and through echolocation. A microprocessor based controller can be used to associate audible feedback, such as unique words or phrases, with each key and to generate that word or phrase when the proper key is selected. Thus, a dolphin can select a word or phrase by locating the associated key and by activating the switch for that key to communicate with humans or with another dolphin. Likewise, a human can activate the switch to generate a spoken word or phrase to communicate with a dolphin. A photosensor switch can be advantageously used as a non-contact switch to enable the dolphin to use its rostrum or other body parts to select a key by breaking an optical beam generated across the opening of the key. Thus the dolphin simply swims towards the object in the key to activate the switch by breaking the beam. In addition to controlling the audible feedback when a key is selected, the controller can be used to record a log of events of the session, including the keys selected and the time at which such selections occurred, as well as observer comments.

Method and apparatus for a virtual video game

United States Patent 5368309

The invention is directed to an interactive video game whereby players sit opposite each other and view the game and each other through a semi-transparent image generated in real-time through the use of a first-surface reflection. The present invention uses opposing Heads-Up Displays (HUDs). Using opposing HUDs, an image can be apparently suspended between two players. The surface on which the image is displayed has sufficient transparency to allow each player to see the other player along with the image. Thus, the players can interact during play allowing for a more enhanced reward in the experience. The effect could be further enhanced by the use of stereo glasses and a stereo-pair of images on the display such that the players see 3-D images on the playing "surface." To further enhance the interactive experience, the virtual images are substantially coincident so that when one player looks up from the action in the game to see the opponent, the opponent's eyes are looking at roughly the same spot in space where the first player perceives the action to be. Thus, the present invention yields more direct communication between players, as well as an enhanced experience. The present invention yields additional applications such as where each player sees any number of images which correspond to the image of the "opponent," or "electronic painting" applications. Other games can take advantage of the fact that the image is superimposed on the opponent such as trying new facial features or clothing.

Apparatus and method for projection upon a three-dimensional object

United States Patent 5325473

A projection apparatus and method for vivid and realistic projection is disclosed, with applications to amusement and optical engineering. Contemplated applications of the invention also include video shopping applications and cosmetic applications. Graphics data is entered into a user interface and is processed to generate an output representing an image to be projected onto a three-dimensional object. This output controls a light filter, such as a plurality of optically superposed color composite liquid crystal panels, to selectively filter projected light so that an image having a desired appearance is projected upon the object. The projected image may be interactively modified and it may also be stored in memory and projected as part of an image sequence so as to create apparent motion in the object.

Apparatus and method for underwater fiber-optic coupling

United States Patent 5305407

An apparatus and method for underwater coupling of a fiber-optic cable to a light source without exposing the light source to the surrounding water. The apparatus employs an optically clear coupling element having one or more blind holes on one surface sized to snugly hold a fiber optic cable. The coupling element closes a watertight enclosure containing a light source such that the blind holes are on the exterior of the enclosure. Light emitted by the light source can pass through the optically clear coupling element to be received by fiber-optic cables fitted into the exterior blind holes. The fiber optic cables can be removed and replaced without opening the enclosure and exposing the light source to contact by the surrounding water.

Method and apparatus for forming a stylized, three-dimensional object

United States Patent 5280305

The current invention provides a device that produces a three-dimensional object with custom art work from an electronic signal. More particularly, the preferred implementation is a device for making masquerade-type masks, and includes a digital camera that captures a front-on image of an individual's face and converts the captured image to an electronic signal that is downloaded into a personal computer. The computer is utilized to select an image, process that image to remove background, scale the image to correspond to the dimensions and features of a facial die that will be used to mold the mask, and to provide for special effects processing of the selected image. An ink jet plotter is then directed to print the processed image upon thin, flat plastic, which is aligned with the facial features of the die and deformed to skin tight conformance with the die by a vacuum-forming process. The finished mask bears art work, upon its convex exterior, that realistically imitates the face of the individual which served as the model for the mask.

Apparatus and method for creating a real image illusion

United States Patent 5257130

An apparatus and method for creating real image illusions utilizes a partially transparent scrim positioned between the real image and an optical system which produces the real image from a corresponding real object. When the scrim is illuminated by a light source or projector in front of and at an oblique angle to the scrim, the scrim forms a seemingly solid and non-transparent surface that conceals the optical system from view by an observer. The scrim also protects the optical system from damage and other vandalism, yet it does not distort or interfere with the light rays passing through the scrim to form the real image. The scrim also avoids distracting surface reflections, ghosting and other highlights.

Dimensional transformation system and related method of creating visual effects

United States Patent 5159362

A dimensional transformation apparatus and related method for creating visual effects for use in live and prerecorded entertainment. The system engages an elastic projection screen with a three-dimensional object that corresponds to visual effects to be projected. By application of vacuum between the screen and the object, the screen is conformed in skintight relation to the features of the three dimensional object. An actuator, which includes a pneumatic piston, motivates the three-dimensional object to selectively engage and disengage the projection screen, and may be sequenced with projected animation corresponding to the three-dimensional object so as to create multi-dimensional special effects. A control mechanism, including a computer and timing system, digitally controls and sequences projection, dimensional transformation of the screen and background lighting and sound effects.

Fog producing apparatus

United States Patent 4911866

A fog producing apparatus for suspending fine particles of water in air in an economical and reliable manner. Ultrasonic transducers potted in an electrically insulative and liquidproof material are placed in a container in which a predetermined water level is maintained by a float and valve device. Alternatively, the potted transducers are suspended below floats floating on the surface of the water whereby the critical water depth over the transducers is automatically maintained. In addition compressed air is conducted through the emanating fog plumes to provide a more homogeneous and dispersed fog effect. A copious amount of fog can thereby be efficiently and reliably produced to create theatrical or visual effects.