With its Color Alive line, Crayola was the first company to merge coloring books and apps so kids could bring their on-page creations to life. But Disney Research is taking that idea one step further by letting kids see a coloring book character move in 3D while they’re still coloring it.

It’s all made possible by a new augmented reality app that Disney Research has developed that’s able to track and capture real-time images from a mobile device’s camera, and then map them onto any 3D deformable surface. In the example above it’s a cartoon elephant whose pants are slowly being colored in, but it could just as easily be a castle getting new flags, or a space ship getting some battle damage.

The app is still in the research phases so don’t expect to see it available for download or work with coloring books you can buy at the Disney Store just yet. But it’s a brilliant way to bridge the experience of coloring with crayons or pencils—which has yet to be perfectly recreated on a touchscreen device—with the apps and games that more readily grab a child’s attention these days. [Disney Research]


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