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PATENTLY CLEAR

January 12, 2015 Patently Clear

Your guide to the latest patents in entertainment technology.

Large-Area Controlled Electrostatic Levitation of Lightweight Show Objects

Inventor: Lanny S Smoot
Assignee: Disney Enterprises
Patent No: 8915790
Date of Patent: 23 December 2014

 

Here’s a cool but possibly crazy idea from the Disney Imagineering engineers: electrostatically levitating and remotely controlling objects with a body adapted for receiving a static charge.

The invention addresses the ability to include ephemeral floating characters or objects in live shows at theme parks or other entertainment settings, that can move in a controlled manner near a main character and interact in real time.

The system includes an array of at least three electrostatic generators, each including an exposed element that becomes statically charged during operation of the array. The system also includes a controller operating to generate control signals to the array, to independently operate each of the electrostatic generators to provide the static charge at first, second, and third voltages. When positioned in a flight space above the array, an object is levitated by electrostatic lifting forces.

Each of the electrostatic generators is a high voltage Van de Graaff generator. The first, second, and third voltages are in the range of 0 to 300,000V, varied over time to direct the levitated object along a flight path by the controller.

Block drawing of an electrostatic levitation system for levitating lightweight objects or show pieces in a controlled manner, using an array of electrostatic generators.

Block drawing of an electrostatic levitation system for levitating lightweight objects or show pieces in a controlled manner, using an array of electrostatic generators.

 

A partial, simplified side view of another electrostatic levitation system using a differing array of electrostatic generators and a different object location technology.

A partial, simplified side view of another electrostatic levitation system using a differing array of electrostatic generators and a different object location technology.

 

An electrostatic levitation assembly configured to allow an operator to manually control levitation of one or more objects while being located within the flying space.

An electrostatic levitation assembly configured to allow an operator to manually control levitation of one or more objects while being located within the flying space.

 

Patently Clear covers the most recent, interesting patents in the industry, granted by the US Patents Office and selected by entertainment tech guru Mike Woods (link below).

Sources:

Mike Wood Consulting
Full Patent PDF
United States Patent & Trademark Office

 

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