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Augmented Reality Games Outside Of Consoles

by Annette Gonzalez on May 10, 2011 at 06:00 AM

Even though augmented reality is gain­ing speed on the game industry hype train, the technology itself is nothing new. In fact, Steven Feiner, computer sci­ence professor at Columbia University, has been researching AR for more than 20 years, and the existence of the technology dates even further back.

With the proper software and hardware com­bination, augmented reality can take various types of media and overlay the information onto real-world environments. According to Feiner, the technology is not restricted to visual augmentations done in real time, but applies to audio as well. AR can not only make virtual objects like game characters or text appear over physical objects in real time, but can also create sounds as if they were streaming from your actual surroundings.

Back in 1996 Feiner’s lab developed the first mobile, outdoor augmented reality system. It included nearly 40 pounds of equipment in a backpack connected to a head-worn display. Today consumers can experience augmented reality on the go via smart phones, the Nintendo 3DS, and Sony’s upcoming NGP without the need of bulky equipment, uncom­fortable headgear, or thousands of dollars.

Feiner details the inner workings of augmented reality in issue 218 of Game Informer. He also shares a few videos that take a look at some of the work he's done with the technology.

In this Augmented Reality Marble Game developed by Ohan Oda and Steven Feiner at Columbia University's Computer Graphics and User Interfaces Lab, the player wears a video-see-through display while tilting a tracked board to guide a virtual marble through an obstacle maze. The ball always moves in the correct gravitational direction regardless of how the player's head and the board are oriented relative to each other.

ARmonica allows players to position and edit virtual bars that play sounds of percussion instruments when struck by virtual spheres. The player wears a head-tracked, head-worn display and interacts with the 3D audiovisual augmented reality environment using tracked Wii remotes. Players must collaborate in the creation and editing of the environment. The Wii remote is overlaid with information that explains the controls to novice players.

For even more projects from Columbia's Computer Graphics and User Interfaces Lab, subscribe to the lab's YouTube channel.