Valve secretly working on augmented reality glasses




Valve secretly working on augmented reality glasses

Очки CastAR

Three months ago, the famous video game publisher Valve hath made ​​something out of the ordinary: the company had laid off about 25 employees, has been called “a grand cleansing”. At the same time, Gabe Newell, co-founder of the company, quickly reassured gamers that work on all the projects will continue. However, it happened that one project still curled. Guess what?

Valve secretly developed a pair of glasses augmented reality. And these glasses are still the two workers Valve, who lost his job that day.

The former engineer hardware Valve Jeri Ellsworth and programmer Rick Johnson about a year working on this project in the company, and now spend six days a week and sixteen hours a day to continue the work.

“We believed that one day it will change the way people interact with the computer and play games,” – said in an interview with Ellsworth The Verge. – “This is what I’m going to do, come what may. Then Valve that made no sense, but now we just have to finish them. ”

Engineer founded the company Technical Illusions, to put the technology on a commercial basis. And now – the crazy prototype first enters the public.

Points are called CastAR and have nothing to do with the Google Glass or Oculus Rift . The bottom line is that the glasses are designing a small virtual reality that you can see and which can interact with it in three dimensions in the real world. It looks like it’s about what we have shown in the film Sight.

Очки CastAR

The basis of the four points of the component. First, a pair of miniature projectors attached to the points that are connected to the computer. Second, it’s special reflective filters, reflective projection on your face. Third, the filters with active shutter, creating the image separately for the left and right eye 120 times per second, so you see the image in 3D.

Last – and most cunning – a component of a camera built into glasses that deals with infrared positioning the edges of the display, so the glasses can optically determine the position of your head, leaving the software adjust the three-dimensional perspective in real-time. You can physically see the objects that do not even exist. Additional cameras the size of a penny define other objects. Also, in the presence of an infrared wand.

Очки дополненной реальности

Clay and bare chips.

As a journalist writes The Verge, he played in a destructive game Jenga, smashing sticks with virtual towers of blocks balls. “I craned my neck, trying to look down and saw them fly to the surface of the table. I flew over the rough landscape of Minecraft, using only his head to control. I like the way CastAR can work with virtual toys by placing RFID-surface markers that grow in the Team Fortress 2 characters.

Finally, Ellsworth introduced me to the best thing that you can imagine. We were playing a multiplayer game with two controllers, Xbox, standing shoulder to shoulder, laughing at each other as the zombies fell into a shooter. We looked at one and the same place, but the glasses were given a unique 3D-perspective to each of us.

Due to the reflective surface, a lot of light is returned back to the viewer, so there was very little cross-talk between the players. You can only see what is for you, so you can play at once four. Points give enough light to use the device in a moderately sunlit room. It is theoretically possible to create a separate room like the holodeck, posting a reflective surface on each of the walls.

It should be noted that although the glasses are impressive, the design itself is still very raw and is not suitable for public taste. Even Oculus Rift, virtual reality glasses, stuck together with duct tape and a dream, hold much stronger than the prototypes CastAR, which Ellsworth spent 40 hours of hard soldering. Clay and bare chips – on the topic of the day.

The project is in an experimental phase, and the team itself notes that although some projects have provoked a storm of enthusiastic applause, the other is not very impressive.

Очки CastAR

The final product through the eyes of an artist.

After the exhibition, Maker Faire, which were shown glasses CastAR, the case will be for Kickstarter: in late summer or early fall, all interested will be able to invest in the development of the system. Ellsworth Johnson and hope that they can reduce the cost of credit to $ 200, or even lower, thanks to the common components in the core of the device and personal experience. Ellsworth made cheap chips, ranging from video decoders to the components of video games, as well as of his personal merits cheap infrared tracking chip. Johnson did the same software that helps people make games. He managed to change the game’s code, while we were playing. But before we really see the light of glasses, you should still much to finalize: the software and sticks and spectacles.

At present, the task of developers is to create a platform, providing hardware developers and see what they can do. It is too early to say whether it will be a real product that will sell. Too early.

And now the most important question. If the idea was so fantastic, why Valve has given it up? Technical Illusions team is not comfortable talking about it:

“I went and called all the friends, colleagues, people could find. Many of them are still there. I wish them all the best in what they do, and I would not want to disturb them or disrupt their plans. ”

Очки CastAR

Jeri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson

Hardware initiative Valve worked simultaneously on augmented reality and virtual above. Virtual reality won. “You probably know that Valve is better known in a certain class of games,” – says Johnson. Augmented reality is not appropriate for elementary first-person shooter in which Valve has built its reputation.

With all this and Ellsworth Johnson did not want to leave. “I do not want to deal with either the DR or BP, but someone in our group was delighted with them, and we had to work together,” – says Ellsworth. However, six months later, she decided that the future of augmented reality, and apparently unleashed strife in Valve. At the time, Jones worked in the Linux at Valve and in his spare time helping Ellsworth in its enthusiasm arcade machines.

“I made a billion first-person shooter and I finally had the chance to try something new. This is all I “, – he said.

For its part, Valve has lost all interest in the project by providing a team of Technical Illusions absolute authority to undertake the work that they love. Here is what Ellsworth:

“Gabe was all for it. I spoke with Gabe, he spoke to the lawyers and thought, ‘this is it, let them do, “because he saw that we were completely engaged.”

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Tags: Valve , Virtual Reality , Augmented Reality .


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