An Audio Augmented Reality Game I’d Like To Play

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Russell Davies does lots of things that are interesting, including, um, Interesting and Newspaper Club and a bunch of other stuff, but the other week he did a talk at the Playful event in London, culminating in this fabulous mock-up of an augmented reality game using an iPhone.

The idea is genius: you start playing the game with one tap, and after that you don’t have to look at the device at all. You walk around with your earphones in, and it alerts you with sounds when there’s stuff to interact with. This video explains it better:

SAP from russelldavies on Vimeo.

It’s called Situated Audio Platform, or SAP. It’s augmented reality based on sound; a virtual world wrapped round our existing one, but one you listen to, not one you have to watch on screen.

Russell’s example shows interactions like finding hidden virtual objects, or destroying nearby virtual baddies. Think about it for a moment: suddenly you’re not just playing a game, you’re inside the game. It happens around you while you’re ambling down the street to the shops, or hanging out in the park on a Sunday afternoon.

Think of some other possibilities:

  • a platformer level whereby the iPhone instructs you to leap to the left to avoid an incoming Goomba
  • a racing element where the iPhone detects several players standing within a few feet to one another, and instructs all of them to run to a point 200 feet away, ready steady GO!
  • a treasure hunt aspect, where you can “drop” files from your phone (sounds, images, whatever) in the real world, ready for someone to find later (and perhaps return to you to win a prize)

Augmented reality is growing fast and is going to be huge, I have no doubt. There are already a few augmented reality games in the App Store; but Russell’s concept is different from anything else I’ve seen out there. (If anyone’s seen something something similar on the Store already, please mention it in the comments.)

I’ll leave you to read Russell’s full post to get a proper idea of what he’s trying to say. It’s well worth 10 minutes of your time.