Disney is about to make coloring books way more technologically advanced than you remember. Predictably, it involves an iPad, but it's cooler than you think.
Disney Research, Mickey Mouse's international network of skunkworks labs, has developed an app that shows you what the character you're coloring looks like in 3D, in real-time, as you're coloring it.
As you can see in the video above, you simply point your iPad's camera at the coloring book, and the coloring book app will show you how the texture of the 3D model change as you draw. There are plenty of apps that can pull up a specific 3D model based on what the camera sees and overlay it over the image, but Disney's coloring book app is a little more advanced.
It's able to both take a 2D, colored drawing and map it to a 3D model, as well as use that information to color the parts of the character you can see in 3D, but can't color in 2D. According to Disney's research paper, to do this, the app creates an initial guess based on what information is there, which it then slowly relaxes to fill in the rest of the 3D model through "a virtual spring system." You can see this happening at the 0:50 mark in the video.
I've seen a lot of children's toys with augmented reality gimmicks over the years. Usually, it involved pointing an iPad at a game board to get more information that could have easily been included in a booklet. Crayola even has a similar app that will animate your character after you're done coloring, but there's something really hypnotizing about watching the character come to life in real time.
"Coloring books capture the imagination of children and provide them with one of their earliest opportunities for creative expression," the research paper explains. "However, given the proliferation and popularity of television and digital devices, traditional activities like coloring can seem unexciting in comparison."
I disagree! Coloring books are pretty cool and fun on their, but if this makes the popular again I'm in.