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Kickstarter of the Week: The castAR Augmented Reality Virtual Reality Goggles

Welcome back to another Kickstarter of the Week. Today, we are looking at the castAR Virtual Reality Augmented Reality goggles. Wow that’s a mouthful.

As you can guess, the castAR is a gaming peripheral instead of a game. It’s being developed by a couple of former Valve inventors, Jeri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson. Essentially, the castAR is a pair of transparent glasses with two tiny micro-projectors over the rims. These micro-projects display a transparent “holographic” image over your normal field of sight, a lot like the Google Glass does. What separates the castAR from the Google Glass, is the fact that it can broadcast two different images to each eyeball, essentially creating a 3D stereoscopic “hologram” that is overlayed over actual 3D space.

The castAR system comes with two peripherals. The first is the “magic wand.” This wand like controller is essentially a pointer that the system can keep track of in three dimensional space. It allows you to pick up, move, and otherwise interact with the virtual “hologram” items that the system is showing you.

The second piece of technology is an RFID map. This mat detects RFID chips in specific game pieces, a lot like Skylanders or Disney Infinity. These game pieces can be moved around the game mat, and 3D images can be projected over them. For example, imagine Yu-Gi-Oh style cards with RFID chips in them. The monsters in these cards could actually come to life and fight before your very eyes.

The castAR system can be used in two different modes: true AR or true VR. True VR mode actually blackens out the glasses with a clip on, which means that the computer generates everything that you see. True AR mode keeps the lenses transparent, overlaying what you see on top of the real world.

The primary applications of the castAR system seem to be in table top gaming. By combining the RFID mat, the wand, and the castAR glasses, GMs would be able to make fully immersive environments come to life on the table in front of them. However, the system could also be used as an “Oculus Rift” style attachment to existing games, providing a 3D view of the world you are playing in. More imaginative uses of the system include MMOs where you can actually see and interact with the world around you, or better yet, see your friends as their actual MMO characters. The designers said that they were inspired by the holographic technology of Star Wars: Episode 4, specifically the 3D chess game.

However, it’s not just the gaming applications that have people excited about castAR, it’s the computing applications. While the creators of this system seem to primarily focus on gaming applications, analysts and couch speculators have run rampant with ideas for this powerful system. For example, many imagine a Google Glass style life assistance, but with real 3D images. Imagine your GPS actually able to project directions onto the road in front of you. Imagine looking at a person and instantly getting a 3D readout of their Facebook feed. Imagine playing volleyball or basketball in real life with a ball that isn’t even there!

This interesting little Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality system opened its Kickstarter doors three days ago asking for $400,000 dollars in order to succeed. In just two days the Kickstarter blew past that milestone, earning almost $500,000 dollars at time of writing with almost 2,000 backers. The team is now working toward stretch goals which will allow them to develop a dungeon creation tool at $600,000 dollars, and allow them to integrate a microphone and earbuds into the system at $800,000 dollars.

For more information about the castAR Virtual Reality Augmented Reality system, head on over to the official Kickstarter page. The castAR Kickstarter campaign will close on November 14th.

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