Disney Shows How VR Can Teach You To Catch A Ball

You might think Disney is too busy making blockbuster movies to spend time researching how VR can help teach you to catch. Well, strangely, you’d be wrong.

The company’s research division this week posted footage of experiments it’s been working with in VR regarding the human perceptual system. Specifically, its work explores if VR could help people to catch a ball. To do this, the company created a system in which a real ball is not only tracked virtually as it’s thrown, but an app also predicts its trajectory and behaviour, estimating where you’ll need to catch it.

Disney shows different examples of how to display this data in the video. One shows an arching line that charts the ball’s path, while another simply shows where the user needs to catch. With these types of data, however, the video shows the users ignoring these visual aids and simply relying on looking at the ball itself, just like he would in the real world.

However, when tacking the ball itself out of the virtual world and forcing the user to catch using this data the user moves in an almost robotic fashion to grab the ball. A key part of the video compares the two movements the user makes when he can and can’t see the ball.

It’s a pretty fascinating watch even if you don’t see VR helping your own ball catching skills any time soon. Disney goes into greater detail about its findings in the paper here. In conclusion, it states that “combining virtual and physical dynamic interactions” is “feasible” and can enhance VR experiences. “As a result of these preliminary findings, we have discovered many more avenues for future work in dynamic object interactions in VR,” it reads.