Ex-Valve staffers launch Kickstarter for augmented and virtual reality glasses

ex valve staffers launch kickstarter for augmented and virtual reality glasses castar

Oculus Rift is no longer the only hot virtual reality tech around. Enter castAR, a “projected augmented reality system” that works using a combination of heavily kitted out glasses, a motion-sensing “Magic Wand,” and an RFID Tracking Grid. It is the creation of Jeri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson, a pair of ex-Valve Software staffers who spent their final months at the company working on an augmented reality project. After leaving Valve, they formed Technical Illusions together and are now seeking $400,000 in crowdfunding on Kickstarter.

The castAR glasses are quite a bit more complicated than Oculus Rift, which is ultimately just a monitor that you wear on your head. The glasses themselves are fitted with two micro-projectors, one for each eye, and make use of active shutter technology to limit what each eye can see. Between the two lenses is a camera that enables head-tracking, using infrared ID markers placed on an included reflective surface. This is where the castAR’s holographic projections appear. Then there’s the Magic Wand, a Wii Remote-like device fitted with buttons and a trigger, an analog stick, and motion tracking tech.

Various funding tiers allow backers to choose whether they want just the glasses/reflective sheet, just the Magic Wand, or the entire bundle. There are additional options as well for those who want to accessorize with RFID tracking bases (for use with, say, action figures). Give the Kickstarter page a read; castAR is a nifty piece of tech, but it’s a bit more complicated to explain than something like the Rift.

Fans of virtual reality: this is great news. Oculus VR is generating a lot of interest out in the gaming world, so much so that Sony may be prepping its own VR goggles for the PlayStation 4. Competition is a good thing, and castAR is yet another contender. The more options there are, the more the respective creators and engineers are pushed to innovate. 

Developer kits for castAR are expected to ship in late 2014. Take a peek at the Kickstarter and see what Ellsworth and Johnson have been up to.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Booze-filled ski poles and crypto piggy banks

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Computing

ZSpace’s laptop brings education to life with its own 3D technology

The ZSpace laptop wants to overhaul education and training by offering affordable access to 3D mixed reality through a bespoke screen and glasses technology that is already supported by a wide array of applications.
Virtual Reality

Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive: Prices drop, but our favorite stays the same

The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are the two big names in the virtual reality arena, but most people can only afford one. Our comparison tells you which is best when you pit the Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive.
News

Listen up! White noise device may make VR motion sickness a thing of the past

A simple device that sends white noise vibrations to the inner ear could be all it takes to fix the long-running problem of nausea in virtual reality. The developers are now seeking FDA approval.
Emerging Tech

Gorgeous images show storms and cloud formations in the atmosphere of Jupiter

NASA's Juno mission arrived at Jupiter in 2016 and has been collecting data since then. NASA has shared an update on the progress of the mission as it reaches its halfway point, releasing stunning images of the planet as seen from orbit.
Emerging Tech

Beautiful image of young planets sheds new light on planet formation

Researchers examining protoplanetary disks -- the belts of dust that eventually form planets -- have shared fascinating images of the planets from their survey, showing the various stages of planet formation.
Emerging Tech

Meet the MIT scientist who’s growing semi-sentient cyborg houseplants

Elowan is a cybernetic plant that can respond to its surroundings. Tethered by a few wires and silver electrodes, the plant-robot hybrid can move in response to bioelectrochemical signals that reflect the plant’s light demands.
Emerging Tech

Delivery robot goes up in flames while out and about in California

A small meal-delivery robot suddenly caught fire in Berkeley, California, on Friday. The blaze was quickly tackled and no one was hurt, but the incident is nevertheless a troubling one for the fledgling robot delivery industry.
Emerging Tech

High-tech dancing robot turns out to be a guy in a costume

A Russian TV audience was impressed recently by an adult-sized "robot" that could dance and talk. But when some people began pointing out that its actions were a bit odd, the truth emerged ... it was a fella in a robot suit.
Emerging Tech

MIT’s smart capsule could be used to release drugs in response to a fever

Researchers have developed a 3D-printed capsule which can monitor patients' vital signs, transmit this information to a connected device, and release drugs in response to symptoms.
Emerging Tech

‘Crop duster’ robot is helping reseed the Great Barrier Reef with coral

In a world first, an undersea robot has delivered microscopic coral larvae to the Great Barrier Reef. Meet Larvalbot: the robot "crop duster" which dispenses coral babies on troubled reefs.
Emerging Tech

Self-driving dirt rally vehicle offers crash course in autonomous car safety

Georgia Tech's AutoRally initiative pushes self-driving cars to their limit by getting scaled-down autonomous vehicles to drive really, really fast and aggressively on dirt roads. Here's why.
Features

Cities looking to get smart take a lesson from an iconic shopping mall

From Disney World to the Mall of America, public venues are becoming microcosms for smart city projects. We dove into both, to show what government officials can learn – and what you can expect from your city.
Photography

Forget painting-style transfers, this A.I. creates realistic portraits of fake people

Do these images look computer-generated? Nvidia researchers recently published a paper on a new variation on style transfer artificial intelligence that's able to generate entirely new portraits.