For those who’ve longed for a Star Trek-style holodeck of your own — the future is here. castAR is an augmented reality system that brings the idea within reach.
Designed by Rick Johnson and Jeri Ellsworth of Technical Illusions, castAR bridges the gap between the physical world and the virtual world by combining projected augmented reality, true virtual reality, and true augmented reality in a single system. Last fall, it earned over a million dollars on Kickstarter, more than double its $400k goal.
While wearing the castAR glasses, the effect is pretty nifty: I played a multiplayer zombie game that is projected on a real table top. When I moved your body in real life, the software adjusted my view of the projected game board accordingly. Unlike immersive virtual reality, you can still see your opponents in real life with a tilt of the head, if you want to exchange a look or punch them in the arm.
Outside of games, the potential applications for this type of technology are plentiful. “There’s data visualization for computer aided design, or for education. If you really wanted to go crazy, you could even turn your entire room into a holodeck,” says castAR co-creator Jeri Ellsworth. A holodeck? Be still, my Star Trek TNG-loving heart.
I stopped by the castAR tent at Maker Faire Bay Area 2014, where they were demoing an Asteroids-style game, a multiplayer zombie game, and a 3D rendering of what your 3D print will look like — projected inside the 3D printer, as it’s printing. Jeri spoke with me on camera about castAR’s potential and what she loves most about seeing other people using it. I also chatted with some Fairegoers who had just demoed the muliplayer zombie game (“It was cooperative at first, but then things went downhill and we started attacking each other”), and Technical Illusions artist Ryan Smith. Check out the video above.