Disney researchers are working on fireworks you can 'feel'

If you're visually impaired or blind, fireworks can feel a little exclusive to those with full sight.

"Feeling Fireworks" is a new project attempting to make fireworks more inclusive for people with low or limited vision, or who are blind — yep, they're fireworks you can "feel."

A new project by Disney Research and ETH Zurich's Dorothea Reusser, Espen Knoop, Roland Siegwart and Paul Beardsley, it's a large-scale tactile firework show in which water jets are directed onto a flexible screen.

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Disney characters transformed into real people

Ursula from The Little Mermaid

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Queen Elsa from Frozen

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Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid

(Photo: Jirka Vinse Jonatan Vaatainen)

Cruella de Vil from 101 Dalmatians 

(Photo: Jirka Vinse Jonatan Vaatainen)

The Prince from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

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Belle (created in 2017) from Beauty and the Beast

(Photo: Jirka Vinse Jonatan Vaatainen)

Captain Li Shang from Mulan

(Photo: Jirka Vinse Jonatan Vaatainen)

Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame

(Photo: Jirka Vinse Jonatan Vaatainen)

John Smith from Pocahontas

(Photo: Jirka Vinse Jonatan Vaatainen)

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Prince Charming from Cinderella

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Hercules

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Tiana from The Princess and the Frog

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Jafar from Aladdin

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Pocahontas

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Kocoum from Pocahontas

(Photo: Jirka Vinse Jonatan Vaatainen)

Princess Aurora from Sleeping Beauty

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Hades from Hercules

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Evil Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

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Prince Naveen from The Princess and the Frog

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Wendy from Peter Pan

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Gaston from Beauty and the Best

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Princess Jasmine from Aladdin

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Captain Hook from Peter Pan

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Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty

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Kristoff from Frozen

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Jane from Tarzan

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Peter Pan

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Snow White from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

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Eugene Fitzherbert aka Flynn Rider from Rapunzel

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Merida from Brave

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Captain Phoebus from The Hunchback from Notre Dame

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Tinkerbell from Peter Pan

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Prince Adam/Beast from Beauty and the Beast

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Cinderella

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Prince Phillip from Sleeping Beauty

(Photo: Jirka Vinse Jonatan Vaatainen)

Princess Anna from Frozen

(Photo: Jirka Vinse Jonatan Vaatainen)

Thomas from Pocahontas

(Photo: Jirka Vinse Jonatan Vaatainen)

Ursula's alter ego Vanessa from The Little Mermaid

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Mother Gothel from Tangled

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Prince Hans from Frozen

(Photo: Jirka Vinse Jonatan Vaatainen)

Alice from Alice in Wonderland

(Photo: Jirka Vinse Jonatan Vaatainen)

Judge Claude Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame

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Rapunzel from Tangled

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Ursula from The Little Mermaid

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Megara from Hercules

(Photo: Jirka Vinse Jonatan Vaatainen)

Ariel from The Little Mermaid

(Photo: Jirka Vinse Jonatan Vaatainen)

Belle (created in 2011) from Beauty and the Beast

(Photo: Jirka Vinse Jonatan Vaatainen)

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Users put their hands up against the other side of the screen, a rear-mounted Kinect detects the user, and they will be able to feel "tactile fireworks that are directly analogous to physical fireworks happening in the sky." 

Different nozzles produce different "firework" effects — three jet nozzles for creating rockets and explosions, one shower nozzle for creating crackle effects, and one nozzle for a blooming flower effect.

The nozzles are mounted on pan-tilt units to render movement across a latex screen, and the water moves through the system by a controllable pump.

Plus, the team proposes a visual element to the screen as well, for total inclusivity. "We envisage it as an installation at a firework show that attracts all crowd members to share the experience of feeling fireworks," says the research paper.

According to New Scientist, the project is still in the demonstration phase, having shown at the User Interface Software and Technology conference in October. NS reports that the technology has only been fully tested on seeing users so far, with the intention to test it on blind users soon. 

Probably wise?

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