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Ex Valve staff turn to Kickstarter with augmented reality eyewear

Phwoar eyes
Tue Oct 15 2013, 10:04

A GROUP of ex-Valve employees have appeared on Kickstarter promoting an augmented reality eyewear project.

The gang, which is called Technical Illusions and includes Jeri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson, is after $400,000 towards the kit that it is calling Castar.

Castar went onto Kickstarter this week and has already pulled in more than half of its target amount. Already at $246,957, it has over 1,000 backers and still has 30 days left to run.

The proposition is that if Castar becomes a reality then people will be able to play a chess game like the one you saw in Star Wars, 30 something years ago.

"Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope sparked our imaginations of what might be possible in the future by showing R2-D2 and Chewbacca playing a holographic 3D chess-style game. It has taken nearly 35 years since the film was released for this technological dream to come to reality, but with castAR, that reality can be yours," it said.

"Castar includes a very fast and highly precise tracking solution, allowing you to change your experience by holding your 3D world in place while you are free to move around in it."

The glasses are backed with a wand that works like a joystick and lets you interact with things, while each of the lenses includes a projector that beams images onto the eye. An RFID tracking grid is used for placing items on the virtual screen and interacting with them.

"Since your vision is focused at a natural viewing distance, you shouldn't experience eye strain. Projected augmented reality allows you to simultaneously see both virtual and real-world surroundings, so you are spared other sorts of discomfort as well. For example, an important aspect of your body's understanding of the physical world is tied to your inner ear-the part of your body responsible for balance and motion sensing," said the project.

"When you are able to see your physical world, your eyesight and inner ear will stay in sync with your movements. Most people do not feel nausea or motion sickness when using castAR and projected augmented reality."

It looks a lot better than it sounds. Entry level investors with $189 going spare can line up for hardware delivery in September next year. For that you get a starter kit with the spectacles and a metre by metre square grid.

For more money, $285, you can get a "pro" package that will include a wand and a larger grid. µ


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