Thursday, December 8, 2011

Handheld projector lets you play anywhere with friends

There are a bewildering choice of screens available to modern video gamers, what with HD, 3D, touch and more. But perhaps the next generation of games will do away with all of that and replace your display with a humble wall. Karl Willis and colleagues at the Disney Research labs in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania have come up with a multiplayer gaming system called SideBySide that uses handheld projectors to let you play on any nearby surface.

SideBySide uses modified "pico" projectors that emit both infrared and visible light. Invisible infrared markers that track the interactions between players are projected on top of the game's graphics, which are currently limited to a single green colour since the other two colours of the red, green and blue projector are replaced by infrared.

Each player has a prototype device that contains a modified projector along with an infrared camera to detect the markers and a button for interactions, while processing is handled by a Macbook Pro. Games include competitive boxing and cooperative brick destruction. The system can also be used for more mundane tasks, such as transferring files.

SideBySide is a multiplayer version of Willis' previous project, known as MotionBeam, which only allowed for single-player gaming. He says this new version lets people play together with ease. "So no cameras installed in the room, and no Bluetooth pairing or Wi-Fi setup required.
This is, as far as we are aware, a world first and something we believe is going to make gaming with a handheld projector very attractive in the future."

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