This Thing Turns Smartphones Into ‘Augmented Reality’ Gaming Devices

Remember that holographic chess table in ‘Star Wars’?

November 3, 2016 9:00 am

For better or worse, Pokemon Go was just the beginning.

Advancing the trend of “augmented reality” — i.e., mixing real world environments with virtual enhancements — is OAK, just launched on Kickstarter.

Built as a dock for your iPhone, the pocket-sized OAK (from ToneTree) utilizes your phone’s camera and an app to understand the space in front of it — you’ll need about a square foot of surface. From there, the device uses a laser in its base to interact with a variety of “totems” (think pads, cards and toys).

It’s basically a more tactile, real-world alternative to virtual reality that utilizes some of VR’s heightened tech.

With OAK, the interaction between your smartphone and the totems starts small. The pads are transformed into MIDI keyboards, a toy becomes a controller for a space game and a Magic-style card game now has digital avatars (think a poor man’s Star Wars hologram table).

At launch, you’re limited to the above games, but the hope is that an available developer kit will open up the market to more AR games. Given that AR will grow to an estimated $90 billion market by 2020, consider this an important first step.

It’s for iPhones only, but Android users will soon have Lenovo Phab 2 Pro, the first “fully capable AR smartphone.”

But even iPhone owners are gonna have to wait: OAK begins shipping next August.

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