Disney Publishes New Patent for ‘Project Exo’ to Support Larger-Than-Life Characters

    Disney has filed a new patent that expands upon the impressive Project Exo initiative taking place in Walt Disney Imagineering to bring larger-than-life characters to the parks. First introduced at the 2021 Destination D23 event in Orlando, Project Exo is named after the unique exoskeleton device that Disney has patented to allow for a “lightweight” implementation of massive characters.

    Early Project Exo behind-the-scenes

    The first character to be brought to life via Project Exo was the Incredible Hulk, seen below for the very first time at the 2022 D23 Expo in California. The Incredible Hulk would go on to meet briefly in Avengers Campus in Disney California Adventure, but additional uses of the Project Exo tech have yet to be brought to life.

    Hulk Project Exo character at the 2022 D23 Expo

    The new patent outlines much of the information that has been publically known about how Project Exo works, but we’ll go over the highlights before getting to the meat of the patent.

    The problem that Disney aims to solve with Project Exo is to basically implement a stage exoskeleton. Whereas most current exoskeleton implementations are designed to augment human abilities, Disney’s Project Exo needs to create a believable character. Current exoskeleton implementations are usually powered and attached to the human body. While many current exoskeletons are used to create superhuman strength or ability, Disney simply aims to create a believable character – not one that needs to lift enormous amounts of weight. Disney says that simply adding skin or clothing to current exoskeleton implementations simply won’t do.

    To that end, Project Exo has some unique elements that Disney has patented. One such element is transferring the weight of the costume past the performer, and into the ground through a unique costume skeleton structure. Disney calls this a passive exoskeleton that it says is the skeletal intermediary for the weight of the costume. The image below showcases how the structure of the costume is designed to transfer the weight of the costume and exoskeleton past the performer and into the ground via the stilts.

    Other patent images showcase how the limbs of the character will be supported to pass the weight through to the skeleton of the costume and into the ground.

    The purpose of the patent in question is less concerned with the function of the suit and more concerned with the aesthetics of the costume. The patent describes a lightweight lattice structure that would improve upon the current formation of believable biological elements of character costumes.

    As seen below, the mesh lattice structure would actually be incorporated into a library of “bio elements” that would allow the quick fabrication of muscle, fat, and other under-the-skin elements that are essential in creating a believable character that can have intimate interactions with guests either as in meet-and-greet environment or in a parade.

    The patent describes a process involving a 3D printing machine for manufacture of the mesh structures from an on-demand library for the speedy delivery of lightweight and believable biological elements. The resulting lattice structure would react to outside stresses and movements in predictable, believable ways when implemented for a theme park character.

    As always, keep checking back with us here at BlogMickey.com as we continue to bring you the latest news, photos, and info from around the Disney Parks!

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