Valve's secret augmented reality project, or at least one of them, has finally surfaced. At the weekend's Maker Faire, ex-Valvesters Jeri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson, demonstrated CastAR, a pair of glasses with a mini-projector that 'casts' games onto a reflective surface. The game appears in 3D in front of the player, who can interact with the insubstantial environments. It was a project that died during Valve's "great cleansing" at the start of the year, but it's not a cloak-and-dagger tech theft: Gabe waved his magic wand and gave his ex-employees the rights to the new technology.
The tricky face-projector set-up has a retroreflective surface that bounces the projector's beams back to the active-shutter 3D glasses, while your head is tracked using infrared LEDs so it can adjust the image according to your position. The LEDs can also pick up other objects that you can use to interact with the scene. It supports multiplayer, so people can see different scenes in the same space.
It's obviously something that works best if you experience it, but until I invent way to put you inside my news stories, we're going to have to go with the whole embedded video thing. If you have a pair of monitors, why not try running the video in both and crossing your eyes?
What a lovely way to lose a job: you get a company out of it. The Technical Illusions team's work didn't mesh well with Valve's games, with the company shifting support to the first-person friendly Oculus Rift, though I'd have imagined Dota 2 would work well with a table-based AR set-up.
Thanks, The Verge.