Experiencing Projected AR
Again, castAR is one of those products that you really have to experience in-person to fully appreciate. But now that we’ve explained how the glasses work, we’ll try to give you an impression of what it's like to use them. Technical Illusions let us try out the new HD prototype, which projects a 720p image out into the world. Even in this early stage of development, the castAR glasses are very light and comfortable to wear.
The first demo we were shown was a third-person shooter called Angry Bots, a sample project made with the Unity Engine, and an example of how easy it is to get Unity games running in castAR. While field of view issues affected the demo's ability to draw us in, it was still a good example of how existing games can be adapted to castAR. Technical Illusions also added that the horizontal field of view will be much better on the final product.
Next, we were shown what Rick called the company's “non-infringing Star Wars-like chess scene”. Although the demo wasn't interactive, it served as a much better indicator of what castAR can do. You see a 3D chess board with animated pieces projected onto it, and when you move around, toward, or away from the board, your view shifts as if the pieces are there in front of you. It’s believable enough that you feel tempted to reach out and pick up one of the characters, which of course you can't. With the integration of gesture recognition through Kinext, though, you will be able to in the future. This is the demo that impressed me most. It was the first time I've used an AR system able to draw my mind in and make the content out in front of me believeable.
The third demo was similarly a non-interactive scene. But instead of a chess board, it was an RPG-style dungeon filled with armored skeletons. Again, it looked impressively real. You could lean in very close to the skeletons to see their detail work. Regardless of angle, they always appeared right where they were expected.
Granted, all of this depends on the retro-reflective surface, so the immersion factor is influenced heavily by the size of the surface available to you. We asked if it's possible to surround yourself with the material, creating a 360-degree experience and were told yes, it should be, so long as you have enough head-tracking markers.
The last demo showed how castAR may be used for more than gaming. It was a simple non-interactive virtual desktop that Rick threw together, with different windows appearing in front of you on different planes.