Disney Tech Roundup: Robots, Apps, and More!

The latest in Disney tech news!

With so many exciting innovations popping up throughout TWDC, we’ve rounded up some of our favorites. Take a look at the recent stories across the company — from Studios to shopDisney.

New Line Work Technique in “Soul”

There were so many innovations for Pixar’s upcoming film “Soul.” Among them is a brand-new technique of line work used on the souls. Jude Brownbill, Supervising Animator, shared in a recent post, “We noticed that clarity was being lost in the face and in the hands, so technical directors in articulation, shading, and tools set about solving this, in a classic case of art challenging the technology and technology inspiring the art.” You can see their great work when “Soul” launches on Disney+ on December 25!



FIRST Game Changers Competition

Lucasfilm is teaming up with the global robotics community FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). Together, they’re hosting FIRST Game Changers, powered by the Star Wars: Force for Change philanthropic initiative. Kids will use the Force to  compete in robotics challenges during this year’s sports and fitness-themed season. They will explore what it means to be “forces for change” by revolutionizing the way we play and move so people of all abilities and skill levels can participate.

shopDisney Holiday Releases

Before the holiday season begins, shopDisney got all shiny and new — launching a few features for guests and business partners. There’s now an option to bundle products for a reduced price, guest services will experience improved search functionality for teams using the IBM Sterling Order Management System customer care center, and so much more!



Realistic Robot Gaze

Disney Research developed a system that creates human-like gaze behaviors, using an animatronic bust. Believability is all about the minute detail, so this system tackles all of the following: perceiving people in the environment, identifying people based on salient actions, selecting an appropriate gaze behavior, and executing high fidelity motions to respond to the stimuli.


  • Matt Pan, R&D Postdoctoral Associate (Disney Research)
  • Sungjoon Choi (Disney Research)
  • James Kennedy, Research Scientist (Disney Research)
  • Kyna McIntosh, Software Engineer (Disney Research)
  • Daniel Campos Zamora (Disney Research)
  • David Christensen, Senior Research Engineer (Disney Research)
  • Alexis Wieland, Executive R&D Imagineer (Walt Disney Imagineering)
  • Günter Niemeyer (California Institute of Technology)
  • Joohyung Kim (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

WIST Files New Patents

WIST Files New Patents

Women in Studio Technology (WIST) successfully filed three new patents — as part of their mission to close the gender gap in invention at Disney and cultivate more female-led patents.



Solar Canopy Plant at Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris is building one of the largest solar canopy plants in all of Europe. It’s a joint effort with Urbasolar and will contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by more than 750 tons of CO2 per year. That’s enough renewable clean energy to power 17% of the resort! The solar panels will also shade guests from sunlight, rain, and snow, and are slated for 2023.

Debut App for Pre-Released Content

The Walt Disney Studios DEBUT APP Poster

In this virtual world, there’s been a need for a secure system to stream and view pre-released Studio content. Thus, Debut was born, providing stakeholders, partners, and select guests the opportunity to view content by invitation only. Key customers of this iOS app include: theatrical marketing, franchise, distribution, and non-theatrical sales teams. Studio features and trailers are now available for awards consideration, special screenings, and more — anytime and anywhere!

If you have a story idea, we would love to hear it! Email STUDIO.DL-TIG@DISNEY.COM to be considered for a future article.