A Lightsaber comes with Lenovo's new augmented reality headset
Last summer’s faddish craze of Pokémon Go was many consumers' first experience with augmented reality. Through a partnership between Lenovo and Disney, you’ll soon be able to experience AR, not by chasing Pokémon, but by dueling Star Wars villains.
In a galaxy far far away—ok, the IFA tech conference, in Berlin, Germany—the companies unveiled Star Wars: Jedi Challenges, comprised of an Android or iOS smartphone-powered Lenovo Mirage AR headset, a tracking beacon you place on the floor, and a Lightsaber controller that is a little over a foot long. Each is battery powered. Best Buy and Lenovo are taking preorders now online for $199.99; it goes on sale in the U.S. in November.
I got to spend a few fun minutes recently demoing an early model, which meant wearing my own headset and wielding the Lightsaber.
As with other AR experiences, digital characters—menaces in this case such as Darth Vader or his grandson Kylo Ren—invade your real-life physical surroundings, which along with the virtual characters you can still see while wearing the headset and using your weapon.
You start by downloading an app onto your phone, and sliding the device into a tray on the headset. The headset has a pair of built-in fisheye sensors and pairs with the Lightsaber controller, which is modeled after the ones used by Anakin and Luke Skywalker. You’ll receive haptic feedback when you strike your digital opponent or block one of his attacks.
Once the full game is released, the idea is that you’ll be able to engage in epic living room battles, while you marshal the forces of the Republic, Rebel Alliance, and the Resistance against the might of the Separatists, Empire, and First Order.
In a press release, Kyle Laughlin, senior vice president, games and interactive experiences, at Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media, said that, “we believe augmented reality will usher in a new era of storytelling and play an important role in the experiences we create for our fans.”
AR promises to become a bigger deal generally this fall as Apple rolls out ARKit for the iOS 11 software update that will power iPhones, and Google pushed its own new developer platform for Android called ARCore.
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