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Isafari
22-05-2011, 04:06 PM
The Walt Disney Company’s research division plans to open a lab in Cambridge next month to investigate social sciences for the Disney theme parks.

The lab will open in the American Twine building next month, coming 11 years after Disney shut down a low profile lab in East Cambridge.

“While labs tend to grow organically according to who ends up joining, my initial plan is to have the lab focus on social sciences, broadly defined, and also on commercialization of some existing research,” said Joe Marks, head of Disney’s research division.

The new lab is looking to hire researchers in social and behavioral sciences, data analytics and mining, media and transportation. On a more technological level, they are also looking for software engineers with Web and mobile background.

The previous lab, run by Bran Ferren and Danny Hillis, mainly kept their business a secret. An anonymous source told the Boston Globe that they mainly worked on “high performance electric robots,” which could roam the theme parks freely and talk to guests.

The old lab also designed a toy called “Pal Mickey,” that provided guests with information about the parks and parade times and dates when they passed certain infrared transmitters located around the parks. The toys were sold for $50 in the theme parks.

The new lab promises to be less secretive than the last.

“We’re committed to engaging fully with the global research community through collaboration with academe, publication of our results, participation in professional service activities, etc.,” Marks said. “In that regard we’re following more in the tradition of Pixar Research.”