We’ve all seen spectacular holographic computer interfaces in the movies. From Star Wars’s Dejarik (holochess) to Tony Stark’s prototyping system, the idea of things appearing in our rooms to be interacted with has been a dream of science fiction and tech heads for decades. Well, thanks to castAR, an abandoned prototype by Valve that’s been revived on Kickstarter, these sorts of augmented reality experience may become a lot more common in the real world.
The system consists of two Pico projectors that sit on top of a pair of polarized 3D glasses. When the user looks at the projection surface, the images merge into a stereoscopic image. A small tracking sensor on the nose bridge provides data back to the system about where you’re looking, and a specialized wand allows direct interaction with the images you see. Right now, from the looks of things, they’re using a pretty simple web camera, but with the addition a Kinect-like camera, this could become something really amazing. Other uses outside gaming mentioned are prototyping and projecting a board game surface that people around the world can interact with just like a physical one.
The technology behind these glasses is very affordable, and it may herald a great new way to have shared experiences over long distances. Not only could you share a gaming board with friends on the other side of the world, but you could hypothetically even project your friends into your local environment using castAR. As long as there’s a way to make the glasses wireless, there’s no limit to the kinds of experiences that could be had. I can’t wait to see what comes out the other end of the hacker circles once they get their hands on castAR. I’ve spent a lot of money on electronic versions of board games so my friends and I can continue to play, though we’re miles apart, and just maybe castAR is the key to bringing that experience back with a fresh new coat of paint.