First Look at the New Hand-Motion Technology Behind Legoland's Ninjago Ride

November 17, 2015, 11:52 AM · ORLANDO — Legoland California offered a first look at the technology behind its new interactive attraction "Ninjago: The Ride," which will debut next year.

Developed by Triotech, the company behind this year's "Voyage to the Iron Reef" at Knott's Berry Farm, Ninjago will employ Triotech's new "maestro hand gesture technology." Simply put, you now can "shoot" at targets without a gun. Triotech's gameplay on Ninjago will allow riders to use hand motions to launch virtual projectiles at the various targets they will encounter on screen in the dark ride.

Previewing Ninjago

The theme is Lego's popular Ninjago line of toys and videos. On the ride, you've entered the dojo and are training as a ninja before being sent into battle. With your ninja-like hand motions, you will send blasts that, if they hit your enemies, will defeat them.

A Triotech representative explained the technology in a mock-up that I was invited to experience at the IAAPA Attractions Expo this morning. You will feel some gentle airflow from the console in front of you in the ride vehicle. That's there to help you feel the "hot zone" where the sensor will detect your hand movements. The sensor zone is the shape of an inverted cone, about one foot tall.

To "fire," just push your hand through the sensor zone. The higher you hand moves through the zone, the higher your blast will appear on the screen. It's the same to target the left or right side of the screen. Just push your hand through a spot in the zone in relation to you want the blast to hit on the screen. If you don't feel the airflow anymore, your hand is outside the sensor zone and won't send a virtual projectile on the screen.

It doesn't matter which way your fingers are pointing, or whether you push your fingers forward or slice through the zone with the side or back of your hand. It's the placement of your hand in the zone that determines the target point on the screen. But you won't have to think too hard about this. Once you see the bursts on the screen, your reflexes will take over and you'll soon "dial in" how to aim at your targets.

Ninjago - The Ride will debut next spring at Legoland in California and Billund, Denmark, followed by a November debut at Legoland Malaysia.

Replies (6)

November 17, 2015 at 2:19 PM · This sounds like a tricky technology to perfect. I'm surprised they're not using the IR technology used on current game consoles to see gestures from players. This "air cone" concept might be far more difficult to maintain than an IR camera.
November 17, 2015 at 2:26 PM · The air cone is just for rider feedback. It's still an IR camera sensing the movement, from what I understand.
November 17, 2015 at 4:26 PM · Ninjago...why you no come to Florida??!?!!!
November 17, 2015 at 9:02 PM · The idea is great, of that there is no doubt, but wasn't the point of the gun to maintain the theming. Using your hand takes you out of the illusion I would think, not to mention how hard this may be for kids to master.
November 17, 2015 at 9:30 PM · Ninja masters don't use guns... hence no guns.
This attraction looks quite interesting and should be a big hit if it works well as in the demo.
November 18, 2015 at 4:56 AM · "Wasn't the point of using guns to maintain theming?"

With all-due respect, how exactly would using guns on a Ninja-themed ride be good theming? Yeah, they work for certain rides like Buzz Lightyear and MIB, but Ninjago? You might as well get Disney to change Fantasmic! so that Mickey kills Maleficent with a chainsaw, or have Universal trade in the interactive wands at WWOHP for lightsabers.

"...not to mention how hard this may be for kids to master."

Maybe if they're 3-4 years old, but I think any kid above that age shouldn't exactly have a hard time with it. Motion controls are slowly being integrated into our everyday lives, such as paper towel dispensers that, well, dispense paper towels when you wave your hand in front of the scanner. And you have the wide success of videogames such as Just Dance. So kids aren't exactly strangers to motion controls.

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