“One of those departures was Jeri Ellsworth, an electrical engineer with a penchant for designing computer processors in her free time. She and fellow ex-Valve employee Rick Johnson joined up after leaving the company, forming Technical Illusions.
And in May, they unveiled the CastAR, a pair of polarized sunglasses with a projector mounted on each side, and a camera in the middle. Using a piece of reflective fabric laid at a 90-degree angle, such as on a chair, the person wearing the CastAR can project a 3D image in front of him or herself.
The image can then be manipulated with either a special device or the human hand. Ellsworth and Johnson claim to have achieved accuracy of .07 millimeters at 3 meters’ distance from the US$10 cell-phone camera part they’re using.
But with all this innovation comes a central question: How do you even design software to take advantage of this and other new interface paradigms?”
Anyone with an imagination can see this being used for gaming, record keeping, architecture, art, and tons of things I have not listed. The possibilities are exciting.Want to play D&D with a prebuilt map and put your actual minis on the board? You can. You can also walk around that pad, lean over and look inside the trees and walls and see detail extremely realistically. Currently, there is a version of a destructive Jenga game and a Minecraft simulator where you can use a “wand” to interact with the board and magically smash, lift and build components. The array of infrared LEDs embedded in the reflective surface of the pad allow for accurate and quick head tracking, letting you experience this 3D in a very real way, even to the point of seeing a never ending pit that the blocks fall into when you toss them. The first reaction of visitors who tried the glasses on at Maker Faire was an overwhelming “wow,” which sums up the experience for me as well.
The thing I find wonderful about this project is that the glasses are adjustable for any size, are able to be worn by those with corrective glasses, and are open on the sides so they help keep you from feeling totally immersed and motion sick. This differs from current tech like the Oculus Rift which runs that risk by surrounding you completely. And with a price projection of $200 dollars, small storage size, and ease of use, CastAR is an affordable product for everyone’s living room. Jeri is quick to tell you that the tech is her area and the developers will be the ones to make this work in the industry. She is theorizing that her company, with partner Rick Johnson called Technical Illusions, will create some games to ship with the units and eventually have a developer kit or options for you to get more advanced games or create your own in the future. Look for a Kickstarter in early 2014 to support this idea and get in quickly because I suspect this one you will want to tell your grandchildren you were a part of….