Jul.26, 2013

Some robots and toys have lifelike skin and hair but their artificial eyes are simply not expressive enough. The classic approach in the entertainment industry is to build mechanically actuated eyes. Though these animatronic eyes can be compelling, they are complex, expensive and can not communicate a character's emotions and intentions, e.g. "dollar signs" for greed or a "heart" for romance.

By employing 3D printing, Disney Research, Pittsburgh has developed a new printed optics technology, "Papillion", that is uniquely expressive, robust and adaptable for creating interactive characters' eyes.

Eyes are designed as a bundle of 3D printed optical fibers guiding images projected on the receiving end of the bundle to the surfaces of the character eye. The eyes are printed slice-by-slice using transparent photopolymers separated by a translucent support material. PAPILLION is based on a set of algorithms that implements classic Fibonacci spirals and Voronoi tessellation for efficient packing of fibers on a surface of an eye and in the bundle.

The advent of 3D printing has made it possible to create customized 3D printed optics, including such structures as light pipes, which can direct and bend light much like a fiber optical element at a fraction of the cost of bundled fiber optics.

Papillion was demonstrated at ACM SIGGRAPH 2013, which took place from July 21 to 25. For the demonstration, the Disney Research team has created three characters – Beep, Boop and their dog-like pet Iggy – that are each about the size of softball. Though immobile, they have wildly expressive eyes. The characters respond to the gestures of human visitors and will demonstrate a broad range of possible interactions, such as playing music together.

Credit: Disney Research

Disney Research envisions Papillion being used for building interactive toys, supplemental characters for videogames, robots or perhaps eventually even human prosthetic eyes.

Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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Joey1058 wrote at 7/26/2013 10:39:37 AM:

Very cool! I was intrigued with the concept pf prosthetic eyes!

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