Augmented Reality really hasn’t caught on beyond the gimmicky location-based app or two because it causes people to do totally unnatural things to make it work—like holding their smartphones out in front of them as they’re walking down the street. It’s a nice idea—having an overlay of information atop a real-world canvas. But even the much-vaunted Google Glass, with its voice commands and awkward head nodding, has yet to discover its real reason for for being, at least beyond celebrity POV videos.
[Credit: Lynne d Johnson]
Enter MindPirate, an augmented reality gaming company, that recently received an infusion of $2.5 million from Bessemer Venture Partners (BVP) and Signia Venture Partners (SVP) in hopes of finding a conceivable reason. Built on the premise that "your world is the game board," the company plans to create a game development platform, the Callisto Engine, for game developers to take advantage of the sensing abilities of smartphones and tablets—things like GPS, accelerometers, gyroscopes, compasses, image sensors, and proximity sensors—as well as emerging devices like Google Glass.
"It’s designed to make as easy as possible the transition of game design from a touch-centric experience to one that embraces the unique dynamics of wearble tech, and the sensing capabilities of modern mobile design," MindPirate CEO Shawn Hardin recently told Gamasutra. "There can be value in dynamics that don’t disrupt, but complement what you’re already doing," he added.
MindPirate’s future is closely tied to wearable tech’s growth. Juniper Research estimates the market will reach $5.2 billion by 2017, up from $82 million in 2012.
"We have a strongly held point of view that as the form factor, device capability, lightweight design of these devices move through very quick and iterative cycles, we think they're going to become broadly appealing and deliver value in many use cases. We think the entertainment and game area is likely to be the first major breakout space," Hardin told GameIndustry International in another interview. We’re already seeing different form factors, such as Glass Up, that look more like a regular pair of glasses and place the line of sight in a more natural eye path.
As more developers and technology companies create reasons for Google Glass’ existence with a focus on utility and usability for the user, so too will we see an increase in Augmented Reality’s adoption. Until then, both are nothing more than a geek’s playthings.
Lynne d Johnson is a Content + Community Consultant, helping brands learn how to put the customer first, who has been closely watching the AR for the last three years and speaking about its marketing potential at conferences such as Web 2.0 Expo, AdTech, and SXSW.
[Image: Flickr user Mike Baird]