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28th November 2011

Handheld Projectors for Multiplayer Games

Disney to embark upon a ‘whole new world’ for handheld gaming
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New technology is being developed at the Disney Research Lab in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which could allow readers to be immersed in their stories and gamers to explore their own virtual worlds, instead of looking at them through a screen.

Researcher Karl Willis and his colleagues have created a multiplayer gaming system, called SideBySide, which involves handheld projectors that can use any nearby surface, such as a wall, as a screen. Each player is given a prototype device (a “pico” projector) which involves a modified projector with an infrared camera and buttons for interacting with the game. The infrared markers track interactions between players and the game’s graphics are then projected on top. This system allows users to play with ease without any need for Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. So far several games have been developed, including competitive boxing and cooperative brick destruction.

In Japan and Korea tiny “pico” projectors have already been installed in mobile devices which allow the owner to project films onto any flat surface. This first inspired Willis to produce MotionBeam, a single player version of his newest creation, SideBySide. MotionBeam combined an iPod Touch with a laser projector and a microcontroller sensor unit. It aimed to merge the game characters with the environment involving a game which featured small yellow figure collecting projected stars scattered over a wall. Infrared tags were created so the characters could interact with physical stimuli. For example, if the character was moved over a trampoline drawn on the wall, it would start to bounce.

SideBySide and MotionBeam are not just involved with developing gaming. If mobiles had this technology, users could drag and drop files between devices easily. This technology could also be used in areas of education and business as well. Willis states, it aims to “blur the real and virtual” world into one.

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