Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Internet of Things Will Improve Augmented Reality Games

After reading this article about big network players talking-up the 'Internet of Things' I got thinking about how awesome it could be when more everyday things get connected to the internet. In some ways, the more mundane, the greater the potential... not just for the thing itself, but for how all other things interact with it.

Here's an example to clarify what I mean:

The newspaper box. They are found on train platforms, many street corners, basically anywhere that makes sense in terms of having enough pedestrian traffic to make them convenient. Today, they are pretty dumb machines. But in the future where they are part of an internet of things, someone will put a cheap cellular or wifi transmitter in them and a CPU. And they will begin to broadcast information to the world.

On the one hand, they could broadcast private information to the company that owns them. For example, the current state of newspaper supply. Or how much money is in them. And the advantage to the company would be to ensure they are never empty, or never carrying too much cash. In the case of newspaper boxes offering monthly publications, or weeklies, this could ensure no reader finds them empty. Thus, the newspaper box is improved.

On the other hand, the same newspaper box could broadcast public information. For example, it could broadcast its location, what publications it offers, etc. to nearby mobile phones or mobile computers. Very handy for advertisers and so forth, and for people looking for something to read.

And here's where the concept of connected things gets fun. If an object broadcasts its existence on the internet, then other systems can take that information and do something with it. This has great potential for things like augmented reality games.

Augmented reality games are today limited to things like global positioning systems, accelerometers and input via such tools as barcode scanners to add relevance to a user's surroundings. But in the future of the internet of things, the number of inputs available to augment a user's reality skyrockets.

Back to our newspaper box example. A user wears an augmented reality device such as a pair of display glasses. They start the game 'Super Ultra Crazy Zombie Shooter' (I made that up. I think.) and sit down on a park bench. The game immediately picks up their location via GPS, and facing via the built-in accelerometer. Then, it takes into account all the broadcasting things in the area and cross references their type with a master database. One of the things it 'sees' is our broadcasting newspaper box.

It loads up a zombie, and hides it behind the newspaper box, occasionally having it stand up to through zombie bits at the user. The user, in turn, targets the creature with its zombie shooting gun and fires. The game takes into account the standard dimensions of the newspaper box, applies some line-of-sight physics analysis, and if the newspaper box isn't in the way, allows the user to hit the zombie.

Then another zombie appears from behind a park bench across the way, and from a store doorway, and from a manhole cover, and, and, and...

Very soon you have a very cool game environment made to come to life through the internet of things.

Can't wait!

© Jeremy Buehler and Rogue Tendencies ( 2010.

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