This holiday season, Disney is taking a new approach towards augmented reality in the Star Wars universe.Imagine standing in the middle of an augmented reality world, wielding a lightsaber, and fighting off villains like Darth Maul and Kylo Ren all in the comfort of your living room. This holiday season, you'll be able to experience this on your own.
A New Approach to Augmented Reality
Disney's latest attempt at video game creation brings an augmented reality headset, light-up beacon, and a game controller built into an authentic looking lightsaber.
Mike Goslin, vice president of advanced development at Disney Consumer Products took on the project, stating:
"The idea started about a year and a half ago with the lightsaber. My team comes up with new experiences. We wanted to do a lightsaber experience that hadn't been done before."
The team looked into various options for creating an experience that would meet up to their standards and Star Wars fan's standards. After experimenting with the Internet of Things, connected play, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality, the team decided that augmented reality would be the best approach.
"I can see my friends, move around, and I'm more connected with my environment; it's more mainstream. We love VR too, but we think AR is a more mass market technology."
A lot of thought, experimentation, and testing went into different types of devices, but the team ultimately went with a custom designed headset powered by a smartphone and developed a prototype that they presented to Lenovo and later partnered to create something that was scalable and affordable. Disney is working towards a target cost of $200 for the headset.
Details of the Devices
The AR headset straps over your face just like a virtual reality headset would, containing a clear plastic front to house your smartphone. There are two built-in fisheye sensors used to provide inside-out positional tracking, paired with a single tracking beacon that you place on the floor or table in front of you.
Also included is a lightsaber designed as a replica of the one used by Anakin Skywalker, Luke Skywalker, and Rey. The lightsaber is used both as a controller and as a pointer, used to navigate menus, issue commands, and battle against villains from the Star Wars universe or laser-wielding robots.
This concept will open up a whole new world of opportunities for other franchises like Marvel. Disney started with Star Wars because of its current demand and understanding. Once you strap yourself into a headset and pick up the lightsaber, you know what you're supposed to do.
I'm excited to pick one of these up and try it out. Augmented reality is still a [moderately] new concept that's slowly being adopted by developers, but the outcomes have been impressive so far.
What do you think about Star Wars in an augmented reality universe? Will you be trying it out?