NEW YORK — Mark Skwarek is surrounded by infiltrating militants in New York’s Central Park. He shoots one, then hearing a noise from behind, spins to take down another. All of a sudden, everything flashes red. He realizes he’s been hit. The words “Game Over” appear before his eyes.
Skwarek is indeed in Central Park. But he’s wearing a new set of Epson Moverio B200 glasses that allow an entire world of virtual characters, objects and structures to overlay and interact with his real environment through so-called "augmented reality."
Skwarek has raised over $30,000 on the group fundraising site Kickstarter to launch Semblance Augmented Reality. His company aims to liberate video games from the TV and turn them into physical experiences. He’s poised to release Semblance AR’s first app for iOS and Android phones.
An example of what an Augmented Reality app video game would look like being played with the Epson Moverio BT-200 Smart Glasses, is displayed on a tablet.
An example of what an Augmented Reality app video game would look like being played with the Epson Moverio BT-200 Smart Glasses, is displayed on a tablet from Brooklyn Bridge Park, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, in New York. Players can use their natural surroundings as the backdrop for the game with the game’s graphics displayed through the glasses instead of on a screen.
Augmented reality isn’t new. But it’s hitting the mainstream thanks to the rising popularity of wearable technology like fitness trackers, smartwatches and glasses. GPS tracking, sensors and camera technology on mobile devices are finally strong enough and widely available.
Video gamers are an obvious target group for use, but businesses too are finding that combining wearables with augmented reality could solve practical problems. For example, crews needing to repair a complex mud pump on an oil rig could simply activate step-by-step visual instructions right in front of their eyes, hands-free, and in real time.
Wearables will empower the deskless worker the same way computers and mobile devices have done for the office worker, says Brian Ballard, CEO and founder of augmented-reality software company APX Labs in Herndon, Virginia. Wearables like "smart" glasses can make employees a kind of "instant expert" by giving them access to information wherever they are in real time and save time and money that is usually spent on separate training.