Disney Research, Pittsburgh

The MotionBeam project explores new forms of character interaction using handheld projectors. With our prototype system, users interact and control projected characters by moving and gesturing with the projection device. This creates a unified interaction style where sensor input and projector output are tied together within a single device.

Our character and racing game applications show how MotionBeam can be used with mobile games. It can also be utilized for augmented reality interaction by linking projected content to physical objects in the environment. We envision MotionBeam as a key component in a new ‘game projector’ platform where the real world becomes a playground and users interact directly with each other and the environment.

Research Paper

MotionBeam: A Metaphor for Character Interaction with Handheld Projectors

Willis, K.D.D., Poupyrev, I., and Shiratori, T. MotionBeam: A Metaphor for Character Interaction with Handheld Projectors. In Proc. ACM CHI (2011), 1031–1040.
Paper [PDF, 3MB]


Team and Credits

The MotionBeam project has been developed at Disney Research Pittsburgh and the Computational Design LabCarnegie Mellon University by Karl D.D. Willis, Ivan Poupyrev and Takaaki Shiratori.


Email: drinfo [at] disneyresearch [dot] com


MotionBeam Racing Game

In the MotionBeam racing game the user steers the character’s vehicle by angling with the projector. The user must guide the character past a number of turns and obstacles to reach the end of the track without falling off.

MotionBeam Metaphor

MotionBeam interaction involves control of an object on the end of a metaphorical beam. The user has control of one end of the beam, while the object is linked to the opposite end.

MotionBeam Prototype

The disassembled MotionBeam prototype device. From left to right, a motion sensor unit, a handheld projector, and an iPod Touch.

MotionBeam Physical Interaction

Infrared tags are used to link interaction to the physical environment. Here a projected character starts bouncing when it encounters a trampoline in the environment.

MotionBeam Character Game

In the MotionBeam character game the user guides a character by pointing up, down, left and right with the projector. The user leads the character along a trail of stars to locate its missing vehicle.

MotionBeam Interaction Principles

Interaction principles show how the MotionBeam metaphor can be applied using handheld projector based systems.

MotionBeam Game Sequence

A game sequence from the MotionBeam character game (top) and racing game (bottom).

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