Monthly Archives: August 2011

All in the aid of AR research

Here is another reason I should probably stick to using an avatar! This is AirBand on the Xbox Kinect. Which ever instrument you mime, guitar, drums or keyboard it picks up your position and lets you play the track (its kind of like a paperjamz guitar).
I hope mistsuzuki racing doesn’t mind the product placement of their shirt and logo in this piece 🙂

If you are having trouble with Kinect labs BTW, as it currently bluescreens for a lot of people then you can launch Air Band from the quicklaunch via the silver button menus, the save for Avatar Kinect.
I was trying to get footage of the predlets but they were getting so into it it was impossible to dive in and hit save on the video.
It is a pity you cant really play much in teh way of music it is a sequencer volume control, but can you imaging trying to do this 10 years ago? Brilliant fun and shows that AR doesn’t have to be all marketing and mapping

Expiranting on Nymwars with Avatar Kinect

Here is an experimental rant (expirant, of sorts) about Nymwars and why different identities are a choice we should be able to make. Using an avatar and a live recording starts to mix the virtual and physical. It is the same in any virtual world but I thought I would kill two birds (one real and one virtual) with a (mesh) stone and record something using Avatar Kinect which lets you use your body to puppet the avatar.

Just saying we should all have a direct tie to a physical face or name at all times it just plain silly. I guess most of us out here know that, but it has generated a lot of discussion on the web.

Real and Virtual game merging – 3D print armour?

I was just catching up on the gamescom content on Xbox Live and amongst all the variants of Call of Duty and other shooters there was a trailer for Skylander:Spyro Adventures

I must have missed this too in the E3 2011 press as it is an interesting evolution of the offline/online interactions in games. The game comes with physical toys, 3 or them who are characters from the game. They are amongst a large set of character collectibles. So unlike many games now with DLC that you buy to unlock new features, here you get a toy that act as your unlock. Now we have seen things where the to has a code on it to unlock features, kinectimals being the most recent and some of the pet virtual worlds with cuddly crossovers. This toy is, however, active. You place it on a peripheral base and that detects the toy, but the toy (or some online key combination with the specific instance of the toy) keeps its stats and experience. The aim being you can take you version of the toys to a friends has, and play on.
Again this is not totally new (what is!) as the old dreamcast version of Sonic had a Chao “Tamagotchi” in the VMU (a detachable battery pack/and LCD mini screen on the controller). That was of course a good few years ago, before we had such great connectivity and high end consoles.
The merging of online and offline and considering your brand and the experience as a real interlinked one is certainly a growing business direction in entertainment. Just take a look at how huge Moshi Monster has become (you can find mine at Much of this comes from the idea that things are experiences to be shared wherever you are. It is ironic that the video games that were once though to be isolationist, selfish experiences once connected to the internet have become a massive social movement with a knock on into what people might think of as regular product.
You can probably see too that the natural extension of this online/offline activity is for the online activity to create the offline for you with 3d Printing. It would be great with this Spyro example if after playing it was obvious you character had levelled up as you toy now had some new armour on it you got from your friends 3d printer after playing the game?

A very clever realtime 3d scanning using kinect

SIGRAPH 2011 always brings out some very interesting tech. I always think of it as being mainly high end very expensive leading edge graphics. This year though some researcher have provided something very cool and useful that side steps the expensive LIDAR scanning process to capture full 3d environments using just a (now) humble Kinect.

Point cloud data is often used to capture environments that already exist and then it is generally turned into a polygon mesh to be manipulated and re-rendered. Second Life is famously moving from its prim based display to start to allow these polygon meshes as that has been the traditional way yo show games graphics. However this is could all be up in the air a little with the guys at Euclideon who have this newer approach to rendering. Rather than polygons they use an atomic approach. it is really a 3d pixel or voxel.

So look out for Euclideon and their technology, it is an exciting time to see new and interesting ways for us to both create, interact and modify environments.
Both advances have implications for merging real and virtual spaces in either direction as part of augmented reality.

Inclusive gaming – An inspirational project

At Develop last month I got talking to the guys on the stand for the SpecialEffect loan library project 2011-2013. @SpecialEffect is a charity which aim to make all games accessible to everyone. The library aspect is to provide specialist controllers, emrging technology solution and software patches for young people with vary degrees of accessibility issues with games in particular.

SpecialEffect Loan Library Project from William Donegan on Vimeo.

The charity points out that many games can be too quick or difficult to play for many young people with disabilities. They aim to either provide new interfaces or changes to the games, or actually tell people which games already are playable with suitable settings for specific needs of a specific audience.
If you think about it this can be as easy as providing subtitling on dialogue to hearing impaired, or enough changes in speed and skill level to allow the game to still be enjoyable and a challenge.
On the stand there where examples of console games adjusted to take single oversize reactive button input, or shoot em ups that had context sensitive directions. It was very inspiring and thought provoking.
We have often talked about the affordances virtual worlds give us, a digital environment, haptic feedback etc all providing ways that anyone could interact. The reality though is that accessibility is not a focus of mainstream gaming, but Specialeffect are pushing the right direction.
There is also a games database called gamebase that indicates what features existing games already support to help people understand what can be done with them.
It is well worth checking out, and considering.