The fortunes of ARKit and ARCore are still in the hands of developers, who have been increasing the number of mobile augmented reality apps on the market, but perhaps not as fast as companies like Apple might have expected. But one new product is looking to literally kickstart mobile AR gaming by introducing a few key components that harness the traditional board game model.
Los Angeles-based Spatial has developed a multiplayer tabletop AR game that uses iOS and Android devices, combined with cradles and physical game pieces, to create a fairly robust virtual gaming experience.
The cradle uses the tablet to reflect the experience being generated on the iOS or Android device, while a camera inside the the cradle tracks player pieces as they're moved. The real world objects tracked include cards, tokens, and game pieces.
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Officially, the set up requires either an iPad 2 or newer, an iPhone 6 or newer, a Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 or newer, or a Samsung Galaxy S6 or newer, but the developers of the game claim that any tablet using one of the two mobile platforms and sized 10 inches or smaller should work fine.
Some of the games included in the system are Mythico (think sword and sorcery meets Star Wars Holochess), HoloCraft (a dungeons and dragons style game that uses tokens to move the AR characters), and WarTable, a real-time strategy game in the tradition of tower defense games.
There are a number of other games available, all of which use physical pieces to allow the software to track the AR characters as you move them around the table you're playing on. It's a pretty simple yet ingenious way to leverage mobile AR in a way that caters to traditional board game fans.
Each kit costs $60 via early Kickstarter support, a price that includes one Spatial MRX (which is what they're calling the cradle), which comes with a built-in joypad controller, and unlimited game activation codes. Note, however, that for multi-player games, each player will need their own cradle and tablet.
Sure, there are higher-end AR gaming options out there for those who truly like to live on the bleeding edge, but if you don't have a ton of cash to drop on those devices, this is an affordable, albeit less immersive, entryway into AR gaming.
The campaign has already blown past its initial $25,000 goal and has already reached the $30,000 mark, with roughly a month to go. Those who toss in their early Kickstarter support (remember, you're making a bet on the project's success, nothing is guaranteed) are scheduled to their Spatial kits around Feb. 2019.