Samsung Have Patented An Augmented Reality Contact Lens

Previous attempts at portable AR devices have met with lukewarm responses, with many of them, including Google Glass, falling short of what was expected of them upon conception. Now Samsung may be working on the best ubiquitous AR technology yet that may finally be able to be a hit with consumers.

According to a patent discovered by the blog Sammobile, the Korean firm appears to be working on a brand new technology, “smart” contact lenses, which would able to display overlaid images right on the eye and take pictures with a simple gesture like a blink. Of course, the technology to compute all of these factors isn’t yet compact enough that they could be comfortably fitted to a contact lens, requiring a smartphone connected wirelessly to do the heavy lifting.

The patent has been a long time behind the scenes, with the original filming having taken place in September 2014, with it only recently being published. The majority of the patent is in Korean, however, the filing does include a number of diagrams that show off some early concepts of how the lens may work.

Of course, a patent gives no assurance that the product will ever be realized and is often used to ensure that other companies do not take the idea. It isn’t even shown in the paper whether the patent was accepted. Whether we will see this product from Samsung any time soon is a total unknown, but it is exciting to think that they believe this technology is possible and what could become a product capable of shaping our future.

HoloLens Developer Warns of Overheating Issue

2016 may be the year of virtual reality, but Microsoft is carving its own path with its augmented reality headset, the HoloLens, which launched its Development Edition yesterday. While the HoloLens has been criticised for its small viewing area, low resolution, and limited app sizes, a developer working with the headset has warned that the most immediate concern could be how much heat the HoloLens generates.

David Dedeine, CCO for Asobo Studio, which developed the games Young Conker and Fragments for the HoloLens, has expressed his worry that Microsoft’s AR device could become too hot to wear for long periods. Unlike VR headsets, such as the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, the unteathered HoloLens packs its processing power into the headset itself, meaning that the processor is effectively on your head, rather than in a connected PC.

“The most important thing is to really be economical […] you would never need to do this with console or PC—it’s all about consumption of energy, battery savings,” Dedeine told PC World. “Even more important, it’s heat—to not make the whole thing get too hot, as it would be uncomfortable to the user.”

Should the HoloLens breach its defined high temperature threshold, it will immediately shutdown any app that it is running, in order to protect both the headset itself and your poor head.

It should be recognised that the current iteration of the HoloLens is the Development Edition, and as such is sure to undergo many refinements before its consumer release. Augmented reality is still new territory, and it remains to be seen whether Microsoft can do the concept justice.

“I say that there is a continent of gaming, and VR is just a new peninsula on that continent,” Dedeine says. “AR is an entirely new continent.”

Google Glass Enterprise Edition Headset Found on eBay

Ever since being removed from sale last year, Google has slowly but surely been removing all reference to the device. Now, an unusual version of the headset has been found on eBay, which appears to be the long-rumoured enterprise-focused edition of the AR headset. The headset in question is in the ownership of a pawn shop in San Francisco, who are selling on the device through their eBay store when it was spotted by Cavin Kabe and posted on Google+.

The eBay listing for the headset includes a number of pictures, which show how it differs from the regular “Explorer” edition of the device that had been on public sale. It features hinges that allow it to be folded like a regular pair of glasses as well as changes to the charging port, which appears to be a proprietary connector with more in common with Apple’s MagSafe chargers than micro-USB. Additionally, this headset appears to match one found in an FCC filing last year for the Enterprise Edition of Google Glass, which would also mean that it may sport that device’s larger display, camera LED, and more efficient hardware, although images cannot support this.

Where this version of the Glass came from and how it came to be in the ownership of a pawnbroker remains unknown, with A to Z Pawnbrokers having multiple outlets in the San Francisco area and supplying no details about which store had received it. Whether this could be a blunder that reveals a new version of the Google Glass that is planned for a future release is unknown, and we can only hope that someone willing to examine the device ends up making the purchase which currently stands at $2,550.00, closing in on double the price of the original Explorer edition Glass.

Sulon Unveils AMD-Powered Tetherless Sulon Q VR Headset – Capsaicin

Just as the final versions of Oculus Rift and HTC Vive have been revealed and launched, another contender has jumped into the VR scene with their own solution. Unlike their competitors, though, Toronto-based Sulon has managed to provide a solution that won’t break the bank. Dubbed a rather plain Sulon Q, the new VR HMD requires no host system to use, relying completely on its own internal inertial tracking and AMD PC grade hardware, all strapped to your head.

Reading the spec sheet of the Sulon Q makes it seem like you’re strapping a Windows PC with a VR display rather than a VR display with an attached PC. The Sulon Q comes with a quad-core AMD FX-8800P mobile APU with 512 GCN shader cores, enough to give Intel’s mainstream mobile CPUs a run for their money. Combined with a 256GB SSD, 8GB of RAM, and a 2560×1440 OLED display with an 110° field of view, the entire system is strapped securely to the user’s face.

This Windows 10 PC might seem a bit underpowered compared to the hefty 290/390/970 GPU requires of the Rift/Vive but the console-like hardware standardization and DX12 should provide enough for a portable VR experience. Tracking is done by a Spatial Processing Unit with two front cameras which removes the need for external trackers and hardware. This means it will be easy to setup and use right away.

There is even gesture control available through the 2 front cameras as well, removing the need for a controller in some cases. This also allows for augmented reality, putting it into the same realm as Hololens. If might even be possible to move around freely with this display as the cameras can provide a feed of the surroundings, avoid awkward issues like bumping into people and things.

From the demo shown off at Capsaicin, it looks like rather than targeting gaming audiences which require lots of action/FPS and visual fidelity, the Sulon Q is meant to provide a first VR home experience with lower graphics quality and simpler gameplay. A console-like approach means a common hardware platform for developers to target and DX12 should help things along nicely. Looking at the demo, the graphics quality looked like something from the PS2/3 era which is passable when it comes to gaming.

In working with Sulon, this is another one of AMD’s prongs to push VR adoption to the masses. If the Sulon Q can later be used to display from a PC, it may well be the perfect entry level VR device. With a late spring launch (within 2 months), we can hopefully get some more information before it debuts for real.

Cake AR Lets You Try Make Up Before You Buy

We’ve all seen that wonderful thing you are interested in online. From the holiday sales offering you everything from the perfect night out dress to that new makeup, the worst part of any online purchase is when you open it and find that it doesn’t quite look like you thought it would; Cake AR is looking to change just that.

They’ve already released the tool on their lipstick and eye shadow pages and don’t worry no downloads involved. The tool forgoes uploading an image like conventional try before you buy systems and uses your webcam to map the new you in real time (with a bit of lag for good measure). If you move slowly the product’s changes will even follow you around, meaning that you can see the new lipstick and eyeshadows from different angles without having to send it back because it was a “bad purchase”.

With tools like this coming out more and more regularly, it may be sooner rather than later that you can buy clothes and accessories online without worrying about the money you could have wasted. With the ability to design your own cars, build your own house tools and now viewing your makeup before you buy don’t you just love online shopping.

Apple Hires Top Virtual Reality Expert

Virtual reality is one of the big developments in recent years, with much hype surrounding Facebook’s soon-to-be-released Oculus Rift. Alongside this, other companies including Google, Sony and HTC developing their own VR offerings, while Apple seems conspicuously absent. This could be set to change soon, with their hiring of Doug Bowman, a leading expert in VR and 3D interface design.

Up until his recent sabbatical to join Apple, Bowman had held the post of Director of the Center for Human-Computer Interaction at Virginia Tech for around five years. Bowman’s research focus has been “three-dimensional user interface design and the benefits of immersion in virtual environments,” with him authoring a book on the subject. He also has strong credentials in the VR field, being part of the development team of the Virginia Tech Cube, a 50 x 40-foot box used as both a theater and an environment for studying VR. Apple isn’t the only company to recognise Bowman’s work either, with Microsoft providing him with a $100,000 research grant and two Hololens devices in order to study “Collaborative analysis of large-scale mixed reality data.”

This is just the most recent of a series of VR related acquisitions made by Apple. The tech giant recently San-Diego startup Emotient as well as German AR startup Metaio last year and Kinect co-creators PrimeSense back in 2013. These acquisitions and more show that Apple already has a good grasp on technologies that could be put to use in VR and AR development, as well as the field experts who developed them.

With Goldman Sachs predicting that VR could be worth $80bn by 2025, it is unlikely that Apple will want to miss out on this opportunity. Though while many of the other companies that are currently developing their own VR offerings are open about them, Apple has maintained tight secrecy on the subject. I have no doubt that if they are developing a VR device like the Oculus Rift or an AR device similar to the Hololens, Apple would be able to make a strong entry into the market and could just be a product to look out for in the future.

Vuzix Smart Glasses and Wearables @ CES 2016

CES 2016: Oculus and Viva may be stealing a lot of the limelight when it comes to VR, but there are so many other options out there! Vuzix certainly has some unique products too, such as these funky AR glasses, which are fairly self-explanatory, working in a similar fashion to Google Glass, but a little more open in terms of applications.

The lightweight design is great and nicely compact on the side, while also offering up a few control buttons.

The extra housing on the other side provides battery space, while also helping to balance the units overall weight.

Looking for something a little more unique? These headphones have a built-in 3D viewer, rather than wearing the main headband over your head, you wear it over your eyes, while a secondary headband will help hold it in place, much like a regular headphones headband.

They’re a little chunky, but fit on your head quite comfortably and for a private cinema experience, it’s certainly a lot of fun. While no doubt that they’ll be expensive, for kicking back and enjoying a movie on a long flight, this may be a really nice thing to have in your bag of tech.

 

Figment VR: The Pocket Sized VR Experience

From time to time we take a break from the heavy work in the office to take a look at the future of technology. Not by checking out the specifications of the Apple iPhone 7 or Samsung Gear 3, but what backstreet innovators around the world think needs to be created. Kickstarter is a perfect place to have a look and the newest project looks simply amazing.

Today I happened to stumble across something that will make VR accessible (and stylish) for everyone. Figment is a mobile phone case with VR goggles attached.

VR started out on Kickstarter a few years ago with the Oculus Rift, this isn’t exactly a mobile option though and designed to work with high-powered computers. Google then released Cardboard which tapped into the power of mobile devices, but the box was bulky to carry around and likely to break.

Kickstarter backer pledges seem pretty reasonable with an Early Bird $49 offer but now has increased to $55 with over 300 left so be quick to grab this offer. For that price, you get a stylish phone case with VR and AR capabilities and not only that, it has a kickstand for your phone too.

The campaign has already hit the original production goal of $75,000, but you can still donate here. This is currently only available to iPhone 6 users, but there are plans on the way to release versions for popular Android and Windows Phone users.

Hyundai Introduce New Augmented Reality User Manuals

Car user manuals are usually uninspiring things. A thick collection of pages, half of which may not apply to your specific version of the car, usually relegated to taking up room in the glovebox after the first week. And that’s why Hyundai are offering a new take on the user manual, and it’s entirely digital. It’ll even fit in your pocket, by virtue of it running on your smartphone, with both Android and iOS versions available.

The main aim of this manual is to make it more accessible to the user, with an AR interface making it far easier to find information on a particular part of the car than scouring a manual for a matching picture. At launch, the AR manual will only support the 2015 Hyundai Sonata, though it is intended to be expanded to cover more models soon. The app won’t be a slouch compared to the hefty old paper manual either, featuring interaction with 45 parts of the car, from buttons and dials in the cabin to the sections of the engine bay. And across these parts will be spread 82 how-to videos, six 3D overlay images of parts in the engine bay and over 50 informational guides.

This isn’t Hyundai’s first foray into using mobile apps to enhance the user experience of their vehicles, having been one of the first companies to support Android Auto on the center console infotainment system as well as developing a smartwatch app that allowed supported cars to have a number of their features be used remotely, right from the watch.

This innovation could just be a nail in the coffin of the paper user manual, after all, simply pointing your smart device is more compelling than rifling through your gearbox and flipping pages in this era of technology. Would these innovations make you consider Hyundai for a future car purchase, or are you just hoping that these ideas come to your favored manufacturer? At any rate, it makes you wonder what they’ll come up with next.

Metaio, AR Startup Reportedly Joins Apple

An Augmented Reality startup, Metaio has reportedly been acquired by Apple. The startup defines itself as “pioneer in augmented reality and computer vision” has managed to pull off a number of great projects for big clients like Ferrari, Volkswagen and Ikea. Their technologies enable you to know much more about the features in a much more intuitive way such as knowing the aerodynamics and apply different colors on cars in the showroom, possibilities are limitless. Apple is looking forward to securing its future in the department of Virtual Reality ( AR is not VR ), but Apple has been spotted posting job listing for Virtual Reality jobs and it already filed a patent for a device like VR headset that works with an iPhone.

Techcrunch has managed to obtain legal documents which show a transfer of shares from Metaio, an augmented reality to Apple on May 21st/22nd. Apple has confirmed the acquisition by responding “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.” This development has affected the company’s products offerings as they have stopped selling them and the tech support will end on June 30.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DT5Wd8mvAgE

Thank you Techcrunch for providing us with this information.

First Look at Microsoft HoloLens

There have been a few leaks and rumours kicking around about the final design of the Microsoft HoloLens, but now it seems Microsoft are keen to show off their new hardware, to a certain extent, at their Built2015 event.

There’s no firm details to nail down about this one just yet, but if this is set to be the final product, it’s certainly looking pretty cool. There’s a wrap-around headband to help hold it in place, while also providing extra room to store the inner workings and any batteries. Front the front, I can see there’s a dual-sensor setup on both the left and right side of the glasses, no doubt required to generate a 3D scan of your environment and render to the glasses accordingly.

It am happy that the HoloLens looks futuristic and cool, I was worried that it would look clunky; not that it would hurt to slim down the size of the headband of course, but all in good time.

AR and VR technology is quickly showing a lot of promise, but it remains to be seen how many people will actually need or use one regularly, rather than how many people just want to buy one to play with for a bit. What about you, are you eager to get on the VR or AR bandwagon?

Images courtesy of Engadget.

Fancy Giving Yourself a Heart Attack? Play ‘Night Terrors’ on AR

Ever sat at home, in a dark room, headphones on, playing your favourite Silent Hill game and thought to yourself, this isn’t scary enough? Night Terrors may have the solution!

Get your butt off the couch, because you play this horror game at night, in the dark, in your own house. You creep around using your smartphone as a makeshift flashlight. You hear the voice of a little girl, you follow it, then s*** gets weird. As you can see in the video below, the technology used in Night Terrors is pretty amazing. It uses your AR headset to map your house as you navigate around the house, allowing it to track visual and audio effects relative to your position, are they behind you, on the other side of a wall, in a mirror? The game engine works all this out and updates its knowledge base of the environment to help keep you on your toes.

“Our aim is to create the scariest game ever made. It’s a highly immersive, photorealistic, binaural, AUGMENTED REALITY survival horror game for mobile devices.  Gameplay takes place at home, after dark, with the lights off and your headphones on. Think about a system that understands where you are in your environment, and is able to exploit that information in order to create an unbelievable augmented reality experience. Think about playing a game where the storyline involves you. Consider a future full of movies you star in, experiences that seem real, and scenarios, in our case, that are freakishly frightening.”

Being chased down your own hallway sounds like a really good way to stub your toe on something, but it still sounds like a really awesome gaming experience. The developers are currently seeking $70,000 on Indiegogo, although they’ve already raised the first $11,000 in the first day, so there’s certainly a good chance of this getting funded fairly quickly.

Mini Making Augmented Reality Driving Goggles

BMW-owned Mini is working on a pair of augmented reality driving goggles that provide drivers with details about anything in the driver’s field of vision, from road speed limits to navigation arrows, and even in-eye access to the car’s parking cameras.

The Mini Augmented Vision will be unveiled by the car company at the Auto Shanghai 2015 show, which runs from 22nd to 29th April, in China, where it is expected that we’ll discover more about price and availability.

Source: Engadget

Magic Leap Demo is Awe Inspiring

When Google invested a whopping $542 million into the augmented reality start-up Magic Leap, people were wondering what the results would be like. Well, now we know, after they just dropped this amazing demo reel!

We get to see a glimpse of the full feature set of functions are, ranging from accessing websites and desktop apps with virtual icons, to a full on first person shooter aided by physical controllers, using where-ever you are as the level. I wonder how many offices will let that actually fly?

Rony Abovitz, CE of Magic Leap, told Reddit AMA last year “You can think of us as techno-biology. We believe it is the future of computing.”

The only remaining questions are, how soon can we get it, and just how much will it cost?

Source: Engadget

Sony’s SmartEyeglass Becomes Available for Pre-Order

Sony’s Google Glass alternative, SmartEyeglass, has finally become available for pre-order. You can reserve a ‘developer’ unit today for $840 in the US, Germany and the UK, before the release date of March 10th.

The glasses utilise augmented reality, in a way very much similar to Google’s Glass – a product currently on hold. There are some differences to Google’s equivalent, such as the fact that it needs to be paired to a smartphone and its terribly bulky appearance (many laughed at ‘Glassholes’, who knows how many will laugh at people like the woman in image the above). It’s also worth mentioning the green user interface – something perhaps not as appetising when compared to Google’s almost fully-featured UI.

Of course, all of these things could change, but considering the current state of Google’s project, who knows what Sony will do with SmartEyeglass.

Source: The Verge

Microsoft HoloLens: Everything You Need to Know

Yesterday Microsoft had their massive Windows 10 event. In it they announced a great deal about Windows 10 and a great deal about many things we weren’t expecting.

One of those things was the HoloLens – a crazy mix of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. These goggles essentially provide the virtual reality of a device like Oculus Rift, but presented in a way like Google Glass. There’s a visor that provides the viewer rich and detailed content, but content that can be ‘projected’ onto any surface. In the demo for instance, the company showed how you could play Minecraft on your living room floor, picking up and adding blocks with your hands.

Besides playing Minecraft, the HoloLens also looks like it could do a lot for education and enterprise customers too. They showed how someone made a drone with the device, picking up and choosing various components for it out of the air, and then building the real thing with a 3D printer.

The question with a device like this is, how useful will it be? Is HoloLens a gimmick, or something that represents a new take on user interfaces, that will pave the way for computing in the years to come? We’re not entirely sure at the moment, but so far, it looks more like a whole lot of fun rather than some life-altering technology.

We’ll have to try it out to deliver a definitive answer – something Microsoft says we can all do in “the Windows 10 timeframe”.

Source: Microsoft

Windows 10 Event: Everything You Need To Know

Microsoft has just wrapped up their big Windows 10 event. Perhaps the best way to summarise it is that it was about much more than just a new OS for PCs.

First they showed us exactly that – Windows 10, but more importantly that it will be free – yes, free for everyone running Windows 7 and up. It will be available for free in the first year after release, which means you can keep it for life once you’ve got it but if you don’t get it in that year, you will have to pay.

This seems to be Microsoft’s way of getting as many people up-to-date as possible with Windows, a problem faced by the company with both Windows XP and Windows 7, where many users simply decided to not upgrade. This posed a massive problem for the company, with many millions of people facing security issues after the company ended support for XP last year.

The question is, how is the company going to make money? Microsoft has always been a software company, so does this mean that is changing? Will they make more money from OEMs buying Windows, from Office subscriptions, than consumers purchasing the OS? We’ll have to wait and see.

After that bombshell, everything else on the OS side of things seemed quite insignificant. There are some nice new features for Windows 10 though, including expansive Cortana integration.

Cortana will be on all Windows PCs and tablets now, and you’ll be able to use your voice to do a whole manner of things, from the usual “find me restaurants” to searching your computer’s hard drive. Cortana integrates with the new and improved start menu, allowing easier access to everything.

Another big Windows 10 story was the introduction of a new browser to replace IE. ‘Spartan’, as it’s codenamed, includes a number of features that bring the Windows default browser more up to date with Chrome, Firefox and Safari. It has a Reading List like OS X, where you can save webpages for offline viewing across your devices, and it also has a new annotations feature that allows you to ‘edit’ webpages and share those edits with friends.

They also announced the new efforts to bring Windows desktop and Windows Phone closer together. Developers can create apps that run across both platforms and quite like website these days, they will adapt and transform to fit the screen size and input method you’re using.

There was some gaming news in there as well, as many of the features of the Xbox will be made available to compatible PC games. Yes, With ‘Game DVR’ and the new Xbox app, PC gamers will get a lot of the share functionality that the Xbox brings, and users will also be able to play online with both PC and Xbox gamers of the same game.

A big thing for the gaming part of Windows 10 though is the streaming functions – you will now be able to stream an Xbox game to a Windows 10 PC or tablet in your home – not over the web though. You can sit in bed with a Surface tablet playing an Xbox game with an Xbox controller.

They then moved on to two new devices – Surface Hub and HoloLens. Surface Hub is a little less interesting – it’s a giant touch screen for businesses to use that utilises Windows 10. The big deal though was the HoloLens.

HoloLens is a VR and AR device – a cross between Google Glass and Oculus Rift. It allows you to visualise ‘holograms’ onto pretty much any surface – you can play a game on a table for instance, or watch Netflix on your wall. It’s still in development, but will be available during the Windows 10 launch period.

That pretty much was it for this massive Microsoft event, be sure to look out for further articles from us that will explore all the announcements in detail.

Job Posting Reveals Apple Working on Virtual Reality

One of the best ways to get an idea of what Apple is doing behind the scenes is to check their job boards.

9to5Mac reports on a new posting that reveals that Apple is looking for a software engineer that can “create high performance apps that integrate with Virtual Reality systems for prototyping”. 

They say they need someone to work on the “next generation” of software – a sign that Apple is getting serious about Virtual and Augmented Reality. This certainly isn’t the first peep we’ve had from Apple concerning the world of VR, they’ve been granted a number of patents recently for the technology too.

Whatever Apple is doing with VR, we may never get to see it, because after all, Apple is a company that says no more times than they say yes.

Source: 9to5Mac

Ex-Valve Employees Ship First castAR Glasses

Technical Illusions, the group of people who ran a successful Kickstarter for the castAR Augmented Reality glasses, have started delivering the finished product to their backers.

The device, which managed to raise $1 million on Kickstarter, features projectors, a camera and active shutter glasses that allow you to play hologram-style games projected more or less on to any surface. Think of it like the AR systems you’ve already seen in mobile apps, or like the AR games included with devices like the Nintendo 3DS, but instead of seeing the AR images on a screen, you see them before your eyes in the glasses.

It’s for this reason that the creators of the glasses, ex-Valve employees Jeri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson, call them “the most versatile AR and VR system”, alluding to the fact that by combing the AR functionality with the glasses, they also becomes a pretty cool Virtual Reality device as well.

There’s no date for when they’ll be available to everyone, but you can pre-order now at the Technical Illusions website.

Source: Engadget

Everyday Pilots Trialing Fight Pilot Style Augmented Vision Glasses

Augmented reality and VR tech in general is all the rage right now and Aero Glass are looking to innovate in the aviation market by offering heads up display glasses to pilots. This may all sound very familiar, that is because military pilots wear augmented reality heads-up displays, but these are wildly expensive and have never really been suitable for general aviation.

Aero Glass want to offer a lower cost and less intrusive solution that will allow pilots to physically see if another craft is above them or below them, as well as any other obstacles via their Epson Moverio BT-200 smart glasses. They’re fairly similar in concept to that of Google Glass, but feature a full display across both eyes that make them ideal for real-time information over-lays.

“Instead of looking at instruments and doing lots of mental calculations, basically you’re looking outside and you see all these things overlaid on reality,” says Akos Maroy, founder of Aero Glass. “You can select how much information you want overlaid on reality.”

The bonus here is that the whole setup can be implemented for under $1,000 and there are already 200 pilots testing out the new system. It’s currently aimed at experimental pilots and early adopters rather than the commercial aviation market, but it’s still pretty interesting tech.

Thank you Fastcoexist for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Fastoexist.

Wonderbook “Diggs Nightcrawler” PlayStation 3 Review


This week I have been getting stuck into something a little different, my first Augmented reality game and I think it’s safe to say it has been a lot of fun and certainly unique in terms of gameplay, but the most important questions is “should you spend your hard earned cash on it?”.

While the retail price of this game is one thing, I have noticed that a quick google shopping search will find be a copy of Diggs Nightcrawler for around £15, although to play this game you do also require the Wonderbook “book”, which typically comes with the original wonder book game which is typically around £30, the PlayStation Eye camera and a PlayStation Move wand which can also be found at around £30 as part of the PlayStation Move starter kit. While that sounds like a lot, lets keep in mind that the move kit is for many games, not just this one, the Wonderbook pack is a game of its own, featuring a Harry Potter story line and that the game were reviewing today is essentially just a story disc, an expansion for Wonderbook.

Wonderbook is sold as the book with a thousand stories, the book remains the same but thanks to augmented reality tricks it can become any new adventure. In the Harry Potter game it is the book of spells, where as today it becomes the stomping grounds of Detective Diggs Nightcrawler.

The first things you need to do with this game is the setup, it’s nothing too difficult and it requires you to sit through a two-minute calibration, fortunately the whole thing is well explained and you’re talked through the whole thing slowly and clearly. It helps you find the best position for the PlayStation Eye, ensuring that it can see both yourself and the book. The idea is that you sit on the floor, with the book laid out on the floor in front of you. It’s also important to have the PlayStation Move to hand as this can be used to interact with certain objects in the story. The game requires the move controller to function and it cannot be played with the Dual Shock controller.

When the camera locks onto the book and yourself it projects a mirror image of you and the book on your TV screen, only now the book becomes center stage of the story as 3D models appear on the pages, allowing you to turn the book and move the models around.

The story of Diggs is the investigation of who pushed Humpty Dumpty off the wall. You’re Diggs Nightcrawler, who is aptly a book-worm (literally a worm) and a detective, smooth talking, dark and mysterious and overall his  story is actually quite witty and well written, enough to keep us entertained at least and I’m in my late 20’s.

I had as much fun as my Son (age 7) with the story, likely because he could relate to the classic nursery story characters and the clear dialogue, while I could enjoy the constant bad puns and retorts that litter the story. The graphics are fantastic and there are some very clever camera tricks used to put you into the story, or allow you to use your hands directly on the book to move objects around, take pictures and shine lights using the PlayStation Move.

Rather than think of this as a game, where you control the character, you take control of the stage and the story unfolds by its self. You “help” the story along by turning the book around to rotate the level, allowing you to see around buildings, behind walls, or under things. You can tip the book to help avoid obstacles in chase sequences and turn the page between chapters. Overall it’s very clever and a great way to bring the digital world to the land of story books.

It’s really hard to put into words how much fun the Wonderbook is, the interaction is less than I expected but the entertainment value is much higher than I expect and that’s hardly a bad thing. I found it just as much fun to play as my son did and we’re already eagerly waiting the next installments in the Wonderbook series.

Check out the video below, I know it looks childish but it really is fun to play, plus there are many other stories in the world of Wonderbook to enjoy.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/dVnkwYGQ6OI[/youtube]

Augmented reality is a great tool for gaming and while I love the occasional game on the Kinect there is certainly something to be said for having something tactile that you can hold and control, even if in this case it is just a book, while I wouldn’t say you should rush out and buy Diggs Nightcrawler, I would recommend you try something in the Wonderbook series and it’s easily the best user for the PlayStation Move system I’ve seen so far.

Criterion’s Next Game Won’t Be a Racing Title

Those expecting Criterion’s next game to be a Burnout sequel might want to cool down. The company’s creative director Alex Ward took to Twitter and posted the following message:

After over a decade of making racing games it’s time to make something new. It is early days thus I have nothing to “announce” or talk about

For me this is a shame, the studio’s last Burnout title Paradise City was my favorite racing title of all time and their Need for Speed games weren’t too shabby either. The only game I can think of theirs to not be a racer is the FPS Black. That game looked insanely good at the time, however the storyline and gameplay did not live up to the hype.

Criterion’s been part of EA for a long time now, and if you think about it, this announcement comes at an intriguing time. Electronic Arts currently does not have a CEO to make these decisions, so maybe the British developer wants out while it still can.

I’ll be keeping an eye out on any developments of this front. I really liked all of Criterion’s racing titles and I want to know what else they are capable of. Perhaps they’ll go back to developing an engine and start licensing it out, Renderware anyone? Although, I seriously doubt EA would do that at this time.