So for the few of you who have been living in a dumpster recently, Jeri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson, have been developing one of (what I think is) the coolest advances in gaming of the 21st century! A new kind of Augmented Reality glasses, castAR!
If you want a much better explanation of what it is and how it works and what it is there are many places I can send you, chief of which kinda has to be their website. Aside from that, Jeri has a pretty amazing youtube channel, and did a great interview about it on the amp hour (another must if you are into electronics).
But if you insist on listening to me and not them, I shall give you as detailed explanation as I can with the limited knowledge of the technology I have.
Basically, in a normal augmented reality system (such as google glass), the light is projected from a pico projector directly into your eye through some kind of prism. And this is all well and good, except because they have no reference to the real world, so to get around focussing issues, they focus the picture at infinity! Now this creates a great picture, but it doesn’t half confuse your eyes, because they put it into context with the rest of the picture, and with context it being focussed at infinity doesn’t make any sense! This can cause some issues such as headaches and nausea when using such glasses.
So what’s so special about castAR that made me call it “one of the coolest advances in gaming of the 21st century”? Well it’s quite a simple change, that changes alot. Instead of projecting the light directly into your eyes, these glasses project it out, towards a special kind of surface called a retrorelective surface. This is a special kind of surface which reflects pretty much all light directly back at you, meaning you can project a picture out to this surface and see it brilliantly clearly without your eyes getting confused over where to focus, because it all makes sense to your eyes with the world around it! This surface can also be used with multiple glasses at once.
Not only does this eliminate nausea and headaches, but the team at castAR have put in IR leds to the retroreflective surface, giving the glasses a reference point with which to render images onto. Allowing complete 3D rendering that is not only locked to the surface, but also allows you to walk around the render and it give realistic views of the object from all angles. From what I understand this is achieved by having each of the IR leds to pulse at different frequencies which can be identified by the glasses and used as reference points.
Add to this the wand they have created with more IR leds, which allows the user to interact with this 3D world (In one example the wand was used to knock over a jenga tower) and you get an inclusive, non-painful, interactive, gaming system for as many people as you like.
So what’s not to like?
Go check out the kickstarter campaign running at the moment for the glasses!
Thanks all! And thanks to Jeri and Rick for developing such a cool gaming system!