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CastAR: The Augmented And Virtual Reality Triple-Threat

Hands-On With The CastAR HD Prototype

While Technical Illusions didn’t have a booth on the floor at CES 2014, the company was holding private meetings to show off its new HD glasses prototype. Only completed four days before the show, it was still very much engineering in the raw, hot glue gun warts and all. It also lacked many of the features added during the Kickstarter campaign, such as positional audio and gyroscopic tracking.

We were able to meet with Jeri and Rick, go hands-on with the HD glasses, and even interview them about the technology we were experiencing for the first time.

We also got to see the first milestone in miniaturizing the castAR’s electronics, going from a big control box to a little two-chip circuit board.

The Original CastAR Control Box

The next step is to shrink it again before the company delivers its first 70 to 80 developer units, of which we were shown a mock-up. Technical Illusions then plans to refine the glasses before shipping out Kickstarter units in 2014, followed by final commercial units in 2015.

New Two-Chip CastAR Control Board

So now you know how the castAR glasses were developed, but we still haven’t explained how they work or how they differ from other AR glasses, such as Meta’s Pro and Google Glass. It's difficult to describe in words or demonstrate through video what using castAR is actually like. However, you can at least watch Marcus trying them out.

We did our best to show what Marcus was seeing by videoing the laptop screen driving the glasses. Naturally, that doesn't capture what it's like to try them on. The only way to truly experience castAR is to don the technology yourself. Technical Illusions' Kickstarter video comes as close as you're going to get.

  • blackmagnum
    Someone's been trigger happy with the hot-glue gun.
    Reply
  • Quarkzquarkz
    Wait, so will this be better than Oculus Rift? I'm really curious now.
    Reply
  • CaedenV
    This is pretty neat!Back when I was a kid in the '90s my dad use to work for a company that made 3D scanners, and I had the opportunity to follow him one day to go repair a scanner at a college. While there the college students kept me entertained with a system kind of similar to this. It was based on a stereoscopic rear-projection screen, and a set of head tracking polarized glasses. It was pretty cool, and I have been very supprised that we have not seen much like it until now.The other cool thing was that rather than a big funky wand, you basically had 2 handheld devices with buttons under each finger in order to interact with the enviornment. One button would allow you to grab and move an object, another would allow you to rotate, others would bring up context menus, or 'in game' options. It was all really neat.Anywho, the big thing that it was missing (other than good graphics... it was the '90s after all) was the ability to have a multiple users. With multiple users interacting on the same playing field like this new AR can do, it makes for some much more interesting gameplay.I really hope that things like VR and AR are able to take off. When I was a kid I was promised that I could go live in space, and that we would have holodecks available... so far we are 0 for 2, but I would be pretty happy if we could get one or the other off the ground.
    Reply
  • CaedenV
    12771614 said:
    Wait, so will this be better than Oculus Rift? I'm really curious now.

    Certainly not 'better' in the way of quality. The nice thing about Oculus Rift is that you have a much more controlled enviornment, and are able to surround yourself with a virtural world while blocking out reality. This system is meant to open up more social or alternative styles of gameplay. Much more flexible in what it can do... but it will necessarily always have drawbacks because the environment is less controlled. Ambient light can wash out your characters, resolution on projectors vs a screen are always going to suffer more from things like the screen door effect, and it is much more difficult to cram 2 high resolution projectors in the same space as a single high res monitor.

    So it is one of those things where you win some and you loose some. I think the Oculus Rift will have much more of a following for hard core gamers, and even myself as a moderate gamer. But the Rift will always suffer in the popular market because (as is the great secret of Nintendo) people, especially kids (or parents of those kids), enjoy more social games. Things that block reality out have a very difficult time gaining traction. But something like this AR would offer more social interaction. Essentially high tech board and card games, or some sort of choose your own adventure games. I could just imagine something like Warhammer, or D&D being played like this where you can throw down a card or a token and have a 3D character on the field of battle. Or better yet, combine UI hardware like this with a content creator like Project Spark in a school setting to engage students in cooperative programming and game environments!

    At any rate, you loose out on quality, but you have the potential to gain in other ways which could be much more interesting than the Rift. Very different devices aimed at very different uses and markets.
    Reply
  • Omid_m_19
    Beside D&D and board games that have been mentioned in the article,and I add TCG(Trading card games,like Yu-gi oh and infinity wars),I think other things too will be much fun.For example,by adding kinect,you can play a fighting game,seeing your opponent in front of you,and with kinect monitoring your body actions,you hit or block AI fighter,like real fights.I think it would be very useful in learning martial arts.
    Reply
  • Omid_m_19
    Beside D&D and board games that have been mentioned in the article,and I add TCG(Trading card games,like Yu-gi oh and infinity wars),I think other things too will be much fun.For example,by adding kinect,you can play a fighting game,seeing your opponent in front of you,and with kinect monitoring your body actions,you hit or block AI fighter,like real fights.I think it would be very useful in learning martial arts.
    Reply
  • rsktek
    Wondered how long it would take Tom's to mention this tech gear.
    Reply
  • tristangl
    Off topic and no one will care butI find that dev girl very cute hehe
    Reply
  • tristangl
    Off topic and no one will care butI find that dev girl very cute hehe
    Reply
  • tristangl
    darn I forgot that you CANNOT hit refresh on Toms pageGuys at Tom... can you fix that stupid bug where it double post your comment if you ever hit F5 once you post somethingShould be already fixed... I mean you are a a tech website are you not??!!?
    Reply