Super Nintendo World's AR binoculars

It’s unclear what the new timeline might be for the opening of Universal Studios’ highly-anticipated Super Nintendo World land, since the coronavirus will almost certainly prevent its scheduled unveiling at Universal Studios Japan later this summer. But while we wait to find out more, let’s look ahead to what the park has in store for its visitors.

Specifically, a recent patent has revealed how Super Nintendo World’s AR binoculars will work, with a real-world interactive component which sounds like a blast.

Binoculars Mario

Orlando Park Stop tracked down a patent that Universal filed last month called “Mixed reality viewer system and method,” which includes images and explanations of how the multiple binocular stations will work throughout the park. If you’ve ever played Super Mario 3D Land, you’re probably familiar with the binocular/telescopes that litter the game, which Mario can look through to get a lay of the land.

Patent Binoculars

The versions that will be in the park will have an augmented reality component, where you’ll be able to presumably see digital Nintendo characters superimposed over real-world imagery when you look through. The image above shows an example of a guest looking at a physical barn, but seeing an AR version of a horse in front of it. But there’s also a virtual reality component as well: in this example, when a user zooms as far as possible into the barn door, the binoculars transition from AR to VR, revealing a fake digital scene playing out behind the door. I don’t know exactly how this tech is going to be utilized in the park, but I can picture a scenario in which you look through the binoculars and see a pipe, for instance, and zoom through it to see hidden characters moving around inside.

The wiki for Super Mario 3D Land points out that players can use the binoculars to find hidden Toads, “and if the Toads are sighted, they will throw out items such as Star Medals, 1-Up Mushrooms, or even Super Stars.” There’s supposed to be an interactive element to this park as well (complete with Power Up Bands), so it’s easy to imagine looking through the physical version of the binoculars at Universal and spotting special places to go to get bonus points in the game.

Orlando Park Stop also points out that the AR technology will work from multiple vantage points at the same time, leading to what might be the coolest aspect of this whole thing: a physical element where you might be able to impact someone else on the other side of the park:

An example is given where users must virtually fill a water tank by using a button while their view is zoomed in on the tank in real life. After the tank is filled, the guests would be rewarded by seeing a virtual response, such as a computer-generated animal drinking from the tank, or, even a real-world consequence, such as guests in the area being splashed with real water.

We’ll have to see how extensive that water effect will be, because I imagine people would be pretty pissed off if they get completely soaked. But it’s a cool concept, and I’m curious to see what else Super Nintendo World has up its sleeve…assuming it’s able to launch any time soon.

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