Augmented Reality

For this week’s blog, we were asked to further explore augmented reality by participating through an AR app or by producing our own AR demo. After watching multiple demos and even playing with the augmented realities created by my fellow classmates, I am impressed at how simple it is to create an AR with the right code. How cool is it that a simple piece of paper can all of a sudden project a 3-D globe floating in front of your eyes?  Or how about a 3-D graphic of a person from an AR business card? Is this what our future will hold?

We are already experiencing the shift of AR games to consumer devices. Xbox Kinect is changing how we play games, how we watch television and movies, and how we listen to music. Through a box located in front of the television, people are able to use their hands and bodies to control the content on the television. No controllers or remotes are needed. All someone has to do is wave a hand to activate the sensor and his or her personal Avatar will be accessed. The Kinect can also be voice activated by the simple word, “Xbox.”

Not only are people using Kinect as a form of entertainment, the ‘Kinect Effect’ is taking the world beyond games. Kinect has been used to help children with autism, rehabilitate stroke patients, and help doctors in the operating room. There have been over 10 million Kinect systems sold in the United States. Currently the Kinect consoles run around $149.99, but is not complete without a $200 Xbox. Hopefully, as augmented reality technology advances, the cost of the consumer device will decrease, making an AR world more accessible for everybody.

There are more reasonable and cost effective ways for people to experience augmented realities. After reading blogs about the best AR phone apps, I decided to download ARSoccer (http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/arsoccer-augmented-reality/id381035151?mt=8). This AR game allows users to juggle a soccer ball through the camera of their iPhone. Having played soccer since I was 5 years old, and never being a good juggler, I thought I would try my skills in a virtual world. Not only was I able to get 74 hits in a row without the ball hitting the floor, I also was up off the couch moving around. Now this is the type of game that I would rather have the children of America playing! Instead of just interacting with a virtual world, augmented reality is combining the real with the virtual and also getting people some exercise—even if it is just kicking your feet around on an empty floor.

ARSoccer

A screenshot of ARSoccer and my high score of 74 hits. Fiero!

The game did get rather addicting with the hopes of beating my high score, but early on I did notice some flaws with the AR. Because of the shadow that was created on my carpet from overhead lights, sometimes the ball sensed this as a ‘hit’ when in fact I did not use my body to keep the virtual ball off of the ground. Also, an object on my floor that came into the cameras view could act as a hit towards the game. Although the game does have its flaws, I think there is still an exciting and addictive nature to ARSoccer. Going back to McGonigal and her idea of more satisfying work and better hope for success, I think this game achieves making the user feel fiero.

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