castAR is supposedly the most versatile AR & VR system, as it’s meant for board gaming, war gaming, as well as for identifying various products and projecting holograms a la Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.
When Valve fired 25 of its workers three months ago, hardware engineer Jeri Ellsworth and programmer Rick Johnson were among them. However, when they left, they didn’t do it empty-handed. Instead, they took a project they had been secretly working on for a year: Valve’s AR glasses, now known as castAR.
Jeri Ellsworth emphasized their belief in the potential of castAR by saying: “We believed in it… that this is going to change the way that people interact with computers and play games. This is what I’m going to build come hell or high water. It was just a no-brainer that when we were not at Valve… we just had to do it.” She continued by stating how important this project was for the two of them while working at Valve: “It was such a magical project [at Valve]. We just couldn’t let it die. It’s so magical. There’s nothing out there like this.” Well, the name is not the only thing that makes us think of magical spell casters. These AR glasses also come with a Magic Wand that acts both as a controller and a 3D input device.
Making the transition from AR to VR or vice-versa is effortless. castAR comes with two clip-ons for each of these applications. Submillimiter tracking of the head’s position is possible with the help of a very accurate camera. This way, it’s possible to tell how far and at what angle the head is relative to the surface on which the AR objects are projected.
Currently a Kickstarter project, castAr has exceeded its funding goal of $400,000 within days since the campaign’s start. Starter packages cost $189, with developer editions made available for $900. That’s quite a steep price, but that’s what you have to pay to get the product before the crowd. The complete list of accessories, along with accurate details on how the castAR glasses work are available on the Kickstarter page of the project.
The applications of the castAR glasses are only limited by one’s imagination, and there will certainly be future developments in this area.