My parents never let me play with them as a kid because they were afraid I’d get shot by a trigger-happy cop, which is perhaps why, to this day, I get a little giddy when I hear or read the words “LAZER TAG,” and feel myself ethereally tugged away — John Carter like — to a distant world where I am a member of the Lazer Team, policing the galaxy for perps who can be non-violently terminated by aiming my ray gun at the conveniently placed sensors strapped to their back, head and torso.
So when I saw that Hasbro has just announced the next update of their Lazer Tag guns — and that these sets actually use an iPhone or iPod touch as an augmented reality display and HUD — I immediately got excited, then disappointed as I remembered my parents wouldn’t let me have one. But wait! I’m an adult now, and as an adult, I can wave around as many plastic toy guns as I want! Hooray!
It’s no secret that the iPad 2 should open the floodgates of the augmented reality experience — and here’s another example of what the iPad 2 can do with AR.
No doubt in anticipation of Yuri’s Night, Vito Technology has just released an AR-equipped version of their venerable star-watching iPad app, Star Walk ($5). Just hold the screen up to the sky and the app will superimpose constellations and all sorts of other info onto a realtime image of the sky being viewed through the iPad 2’s camera. And that’s on top of all the other cool features, like a satellite tracker, night mode and a time-machine function that lets you see what the sky looks like on any given day or time.
Still saving for an iPad 2? That’s ok, the iPhone version has the same features (but not the awesomeness of the iPad’s giant screen), and it’s on sale for a buck till April 12 — which, not coincidentally, is Yuri’s Night.
Bargain-hunting just got more interesting — Metaio has added yet another augmented-reality channel to their AR iPhone app, Junaio. This time they’ve partnered with eBay and created a channel that lets users scan their surroundings for deals in eBay Classifieds, itself a newish, local version of eBay.
It works just like any other Junaio channel; looking around through the iPhone with the eBay channel switched on will, in this case, display local eBay Classifieds listings — apartment buildings will show unit listings superimposed, shops might show discounted stuff available, etc. The channel is also searchable by keyword.
This prototype iPhone nav system mounts on standard bike helmets to help get cyclists where they’re going. Devised by Tokyo iPhone app developers Ubiquitous Entertainment, it runs on an original app that in addition to using the iPhone’s compass and GPS maps can also receive push notifications from Twitter (via TwitBird Pro) or phone calls with A2DP.
The head mounted device (HMD) is retractable, and as you might expect, the screen is a little jiggly during ride. Test cyclist Sho checked out the map while stopped or at traffic lights, not while pedaling. The HMD was so light it was secured with scotch tape; in later trials the iPhone was stuck in a pocket to avoid potential tumbles from the helmet.
As an urban biker sick of pulling out maps or trying to check Google maps on my phone, I love this idea, though I would stick to keeping the phone in a pocket to avoid worry about someone snatching it and the perils of sudden showers.