Monday, March 9, 2009

23 on: Augmented Reality

So, today the VR geek blog (that's Virtual Reality) posted this great video made by Bruce Branit about a guy who makes a virtual world for his lover... in 60 minutes. I've embedded the video bellow, and you should watch the whole thing (all 9 minutes worth) because it's really amazing. Branit uses some great CGI to produce a scenario that demonstrates the application of advanced virtual/augmented reality. Not only is it visually spectacular, but the video its self tells a very compelling story and arouses some deep emotions with absolutely no dialog. So, seriously, watch it.

World Builder from Bruce Branit on Vimeo.

Now, you might be saying to yourself "that's all fine and dandy 23, but isn't this a gaming blog, and aren't you the indie guy?" Well... yes and no. We blog about whatever we want (see past posts about music etc), and I do more than just play indie games (although, that does happen to take up a lot of my time). Anyway, don't worry, I'm gonna tie all this back to video games.

Today The Escapist also happened to blog about new Augmented Reality baseball cards that are in the works. There's a video to show you how it could be applied, on the French VR company (Total Immersion), who are making them, so just clicky that linky for the vid.

Now, the Augmented Reality we have now is no where near what you just saw in Branit's video. In fact, it's in it's infancy. If you have a webcam you can check out some of today's top Augmented Reality programs at: washington edu and one last thing before we get into talking about the video game applications, a definition of Augmented Reality. By my understanding Augmented Reality is exactly what it sounds like, some how augmenting (changing, usually for the better) reality, which usually means replacing a real life object with a virtual one on screen.

Ok, now, to the application in video games (I'll have more of the non game related stuff posted on bluGrey later). So far, I've seen some games for camera phones in the works where you put down a marker (usually some sort of black and white symbol on a piece of paper) and on your phone's screen you see a monster or pet where the marker is. This is kinda neat, especially when you are able to tell your critter to do stuff or more around, but it isn't very exciting. What will be exciting is when we use virtual glasses and 3D tracking to fully immerse the player in a virtual world. I admit, this is a while away, the closest we have so far is AR pac man, but hopefully, soon, we can implement all these technologies to make something spectacular. If we use 3D body/head tracking we can immerse a player totally in an environment, have them walk around fluidly with a moving floor, and even have them fell pain. (I would post links to all these technologies, but seeing how you probably won't click them, I decided not to waste my time, but if you do want them, just say so in the comments.) Anyway, we have all the technologies to create a full environment for a person (without plugging them full of wires like in the Matrix), and even technologies featured in Branit's video could be achieved with some fantastic intuitive AR creation tools and nanobots (maybe). All these technologies (I hope) will be developed, or at least be in the works, in about 10 years (that might be a bit ambitious). Anyway, look out for more AR tech, it's neat stuff!

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