Robots battling it out for glory is nothing new.  Augmented reality robots racing around real streets and battling on rooftops is so 2010. 

The BBC show, Bamzooki, is an augmented reality TV game show in which autonomous creatures called Zooks are designed and then controlled by participants on the show by shouting instructions during the battles.  The game is run by:

The BBC’s Virtual Studiotechnology was used to enable realtime composition of the 3D rendered graphics with live camera feeds. Each studio camera has a dedicated render PC to render the virtual scene from that camera’s perspective. To know what a studio camera’s perspective is, each camera is fitted with a second ‘Free-D’ camera which points towards the ceiling. On the ceiling are reflective, circular bar codes. The 3-D camera data is fed to a computer system that identifies the targets on the ceiling and calculates that camera’s position and orientation, 50 times a second. Series 4 adopted vinten tracking peds instead of FREE-D as an alternative approach.

The contest runs in realtime on a networked PC. All the clients receive contest scene information and render their scene from their studio camera’s point of view. A bank of chromakey boxes then composite the virtual and the live feed together to provide a realtime composite. This video stream can be sent to the studio camera monitors so that camera operators can view the composite and hence follow the action in realtime.

The relaunch of the show began this November and the new season will run thirteen shows.  The Zook Toolkit comes with a simulator and a Motion Player to watch your Zook perform.  The Zooks can be run in an entirely VR environment, but the show uses AR to put the battles into the real world.  Some schools are using the Zook Toolkit to stage their own battles.


Thomas K. Carpenter

Thomas K. Carpenter is a full time contemporary fantasy author with over 50 independently published titles. His bestselling, multi-series universe, The Hundred Halls, has over 25 books and counting. His stories focus on fantastic families, magical academies, and epic adventures.

  • From the videos out there, it looks like quite a few adults are getting in on the action, too. 🙂

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