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Disney and Google Built an Augmented Reality Website For Pete’s Dragon Movie

August 12, 2016, 12:04 AM UTC
Photograph by Handout/Getty Images

Disney really wants families to watch its upcoming Pete’s Dragon remake and is turning to both virtual reality and augmented reality to help promote it.

The entertainment giant released Thursday a special promotional website for the film that it built with Google (GOOG) and the advertising technology company MediaMonks.

The website, which requires an iOS or Android smartphone to use, was built to use Google’s recently released image recognition tool called the Google Cloud Vision API.

Mimicking the phenomenon that is mobile game Pokémon Go, the website is a game that uses what’s known as augmented reality technology, in which digital graphics can be overlaid onto the real world through a smartphone’s cameras.

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In the game, called “Dragon Spotting,” users must find the movie’s dragon protagonist Elliot throughout various places in their homes or neighborhoods, according to a Google blog post on the website.

If the game tells users to find Elliott at a table to see if he is hiding, users must locate a table and look at it through their Android smartphone. If the table is indeed a table, Elliot should appear on the screen of their device.

For iOS users, gamers have to take a picture of the object and upload it to the website from their phone. If they have located the right object, the picture comes back with a Elliot superimposed onto the picture.

The website uses Google’s image recognition tool to identify the objects from a user’s smartphone.
From the blog post:

For example, if the user needs to identify “couch,” the website checks against a list of possible responses: “chair, futon, couch, sofa.” As soon as the recognized entity matches the desired object, Elliot is revealed!

Disney (DIS) is one of Google’s high-profile customers of its growing cloud computing business unit.

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Last week, Nokia said it also worked with Disney to promote Pete’s Dragon. Nokia shot a 360-degree video of some landscapes in New Zealand using its newly released OZO camera, which digital effects company Weta Digital spliced a CGI version of Elliot into.

Using a Samsung Gear VR headset, people can watch the virtual reality video to get the feeling that they are flying on the back of the green dragon.