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Augmented Reality’s Console Upgrade

I’ve been watching the news from E3 with keen interest.  First off, I’m a gamer, if you can’t tell.  But I’m also wildly curious how augmented reality will shape the future of gaming.  Now I haven’t seen any games that strictly use AR, but the direction consoles are taking shows how AR is shaping them.

Microsoft’s Kinect

The formally named Project Natal previews have shown how the dual camera system would allow for gesture based gaming.  The concept doesn’t change with the new name, but we have more information about it.  One of the cooler parts of the system doesn’t even deal with gaming.  Gestures and words will now access the interface like Minority Report.

While we’re a long way from invisible AR systems that travel with us and connect us to the world in new and unique ways, the Kinect system certain raises the bar on how machines can see the world.  The AR smartphone gives us a tiny magic window into the data driven world, while the AR console brings the magic to our living room.

The announced games for Kinect are pretty limited to a racing game, an adventure game involving white water rafting, sports, and dancing.  The only brand name was a Star Wars game that seems like a perfect fit for Kinect and a virtual pet game Kinectimals that gives us the only true augmented reality experience like the PS3 EyePet. The system is due out in November, just in time for the holidays.

Playstation Move and EyeToy

PlayStation is rightly packaging the Move controller along with the EyeToy (for promotional as much as technical reasons.)  While it doesn’t quite compare to the gesture based Kinect, it is a step forward.  However, if I were buying a system for its AR inclusion, the Kinect wins hands down (pun intended.)

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