It's time for every armchair theme park designer's favorite Rorschach Test game: "What's in the patent application?"
Today's challenge is to figure out what Universal Creative really wants to do with the technology is describes in its latest published patent application: Systems and methods for incorporating pneumatic robotic systems into amusement park attractions.
The TL;DR is a description of tech to blow up inflatables for use in theme parks, from the big balloons in the Universal's Holiday Parade Featuring Macy's to obstacles that could inflate to pop in an a dark ride vehicle's path. (Hold that thought for a moment.)
Obviously, Macy's has been blowing up balloons for its Thanksgiving Day parades for decades, so that's nothing new. But Universal's patent application describes using pneumatic techniques to move features on a big balloon, such as its eyebrows or other animate parts of a character. The application also scales down the tech for use in smaller inflatables, such as souvenir balloons. Imagine using a cell phone to make your balloon move and do stuff. It's in the application.
But the really interesting stuff moves away from stand-alone inflatables into components of a theme park walk-through attraction or ride. The application describes islands that could inflate to pop up in a water ride or water park feature. And it talks about using inflatable obstacles in dry attractions, too, such as an amped-up playground-style obstacle course or in an actual dark ride.
Check this out: "objects described may be inflated during the course of a ride or an exhibit to create obstacles for the ride or user during the user experience. In the same way, the inflatable objects may deflate, such that obstacles are removed during the course of a ride or exhibit. The inflatable objects may also inflate and deflate to different pressure levels to form an object having a hard surface to one having varying degrees of a soft or amorphous surface."
Hmmm... what kind of ride that Universal has announced it is working on could that experience possibly describe? If your brain is working the same way mine is, you probably guessed Mario Kart. At least, I did.
But who knows? That's the best park of theme parks writing patent applications as broadly as possible, to CYA for protecting any potential future use. What do you see in Universal patent application?Tweet
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