Those who have been eagerly anticipating the upcoming Oculus Rift headset now have something else to sink their teeth into. Technical Illusions, which is run by Jeri Ellsworth, former head of Valve's hardware division, and Rick Johnson, also an ex-Valve employee, has launched a new Kickstarter to help fund the creation of the CastAR. These glasses are the next step in augmented reality, promising to offer precise tracking of holographic 3D images, keeping them in place while the user is free to roam around.
The Kickstarter's video shows this hardware in action, citing a few of the many things this hardware could be used for. The “Magic Wand” peripheral acts as a controller, allowing users to directly manipulate the simulated images. The additional RFID Tracking Grid allows the device to detect, track, and augment physical objects as well, letting users play board and card games virtually. The example shown was a virtual game of Dungeons & Dragons, with the tracking grid allowing the dungeon master to easily create a map for the other players to follow. This technology can display images over the internet, allowing for players to enjoy these games across the globe. Another clip-on will turn the CastAR into a VR headset, which aims to offer a light-weight, less disorienting solution to virtual reality.
The CastAR projects these images by using two micro-projectors that are located above each lens. A camera in the center of the glasses scans for infared identification markers placed on the surface, which is how the headset precisely tracks a person's movements and keeps the object in the right perspective. The glasses themselves receive their video signal through an HDMI connection and are connected to a PC via a USB port. The provided surface is made of retro-reflective sheeting material, which bounces the majority of the projector's light directly toward the glasses, enabling for simultaneous use of a single surface by multiple people while keeping a particular user's view private from others.
Technical Illusions assures that users will be able to adjust to the stereoscopic image easily. The images are being seen at what is perceived to be a natural viewing difference, cutting down on eye strain and other issues commonly found with simulated 3D images. Being able to see both the augmented images and the real-world surroundings will also allow the user's body to stay in sync with their movements, cutting down on possible dizziness and motion sickness.
The campaign has 31 days to meet the $400,000 goal. At the time of this article's creation, they have raised just over $142,000 with the campaign still going strong. More news on this exciting new technology as it becomes available.