One of the truisms about virtual reality headsets is that no matter how fantastical and wonderful the worlds that you visit are while you’re wearing them, you’re blind to the real world around you. Sure, HTC’s Vive has a see-through camera designed to make it safe to wander around in a room where a baby might crawl in front of you. But you’re still largely blind to the physical environment around you.
Disney, though, thinks you should be able to mix the real and the virtual, and its researchers have come up with a system that cleverly mixes the two. In a video it released, researchers are shown tossing an actual ball (with motion-capture sensors attached) to each other while one sports a VR headset. The idea is that their system is able to track the ball’s trajectory and display it virtually to the person wearing the headset, allowing him or her to reach out a hand to actually catch it. It’s not entirely clear how this would be used outside the lab, but imagine Disneyland VR experiences where you could toss things back and forth with friends while immersed in Disney-esque VR worlds.