Advancements in Augmented Reality Games
As 2016 was the year of Virtual Reality, 2017 is tauted as the year of Augmented Reality. Application wise, these two technologies are different from each other in principle and operation as well. Regardless, both are quite suitable for gaming though AR has a distinct advantage provided it continually moves on with it's development.
Virtual Reality is based on projecting an alternate simulated reality to the user while cutting him or her off from current actual surroundings. This provides the Virtual effect that users are excited about. Augmented Reality does not cut off the gamer from ones immediate environment. Instead, it superimposes a virtual overlay that may be text information, graphics or a combination of both. The user can still see everything around him. Of course both Terminator and RoboCop have this feature built into them but with AR, regular humans can now have them too.
Being able to see your surroundings is a big advantage and AR is more of a mobile based technology that uses a camera and a portable screen to project its reality. No obtrusive wire tethers, no need for a really powerful PC and graphics card, no need to be cut-off from actual surroundings and no need for an expensive HMD with the exception of high-end AR like HoloLense and similar products.
Mainly, for AR gaming, all you will need is a SmartPad or a SmartPhone with a really good camera. Augmented Reality and AR gaming rely heavily on the capabilities of the mobile device's hardware, operating platforms and software applications. These factors have to be taken into account to be able to push the development of AR games. Thus, both software and cell phone companies are hard at work to come out with new innovations for AR applications and gaming.
The mobile industry's two major players are coming up with their latest technologies for AR. Coming with the release of Apple's IOS 11 will be a software development kit specifically for AR. This will facilitate the creation of AR mobile games for the IOS platform. However, the kit will be optimized for Apple's latest iPhone release which will have AR technology like a Depth-Sensing camera (RGB-D) and sensors embedded into it. The SDK will have fast and stable motion tracking, will have plane estimation with basic boundaries as well as scale and ambient light estimation. It will support both Unreal and Unity game engines.
Likewise, Google has released Project Tango for Android. Just like the the IOS 11 SDK, Project Tango will have to rely heavily on the advanced hardware of the latest release Android smartphone models. Tango is a development technology that makes use of tracking and Depth-Sensing as well so the smartphone hardware should be at least at par with Apple's latest release. As a smartphone AR technology, it can be used with other applications as well.
The Lenovo Phab2 Pro is one such advanced smartphone loaded with Project Tango technology. Tango tracks a player’s physical movement in real time while generating a 3D map of the environment at the same time. it can make use of features such as facial recognition and expression tracking which is quite similar to that on Apple's new iPhone. Tango has its own developer SDK as well as other partner applications. Again, both Unity and Unreal game engines are supported.
With AR, one can see the heavy dependence on the mobile device’s hardware features and capabilities in developing AR games. Developers have to take advantage of these in order to come up with really cool games as AR has begun to make it's mark in the gaming industry.