Here’s a nice way to start off the new year – with a look at a new concept for out-of-home entertainment venues that uses Augmented Reality. We’ve discussed various AR games in the past, most recently I recall Konami’s Space Agent which is a mounted light-gun and cameras for a new kind of experience, although we haven’t had a good look at that quite yet. Or if you want to look further back, there also was Silent Scope, although neither of these games are quite like this new project.
Today’s AR game comes from Namco and it currently has no name (If anyone wants to send us a translation of what that probably is, it would be much appreciated the name we had previously was actually the name of the place where it was being tested, Wonder Park Heroes Base) . As you can see in the picture above, they have combined four monitors to make a larger screen and tied that in with some cameras. The cameras with the software will recognize and track faces of the players as they play through a couple of different mini-games. The mini-games at the location test include a balloon popping game and a spelling game and the software had other features such as putting a wig or beard on the people that sticks to their face on-screen in real-time. At the end the game will “transform” a player into a UFO Catcher toy, although it isn’t clear if this will be connected to a prize vending machine or not (I imagine it will be in later versions).
This all demonstrates another technological angle we are going to be seeing more of throughout 2011, with both Namco and Konami testing out new ideas in the AR realm it could become the next big thing along with stereoscopic 3D. In fact I think it’s more likely to be found in arcades since costs can be lower depending on the setup and implementation. At the moment these projects are all located in Japan but we can always hope that they will find a way to introduce these games (or similar concepts) into other parts of the world as 2011 unfolds.