AR, SHE BLOWS

EDGE - - KNOWLEDGE OSVR -

While Ocu­lus Rift com­peti­tors were ab­sent at CES 2015, sev­eral aug­mented re­al­ity head­sets were on dis­play. Where vir­tual re­al­ity HMDs aim to com­pletely im­merse you in a vir­tual world, AR head­sets typ­i­cally use a trans­par­ent dis­play to layer in­for­ma­tion atop the real world. Gam­ing is, at least cur­rently, in the realm of VR, not AR.

CastAR, funded by a 2013 Kick­starter from en­gi­neers who worked on VR at Valve, was at CES with hard­ware that’s on its way to cam­paign back­ers. CastAR is the small­est HMD (AR or VR) we’ve seen to date, look­ing like a chunkier Google Glass than a Rift. The flashiest AR head­set at CES, by com­par­i­son, was Ca­puter Labs’ Seer, look­ing like a cross be­tween Nin­tendo’s Vir­tual Boy and a mo­tor­cy­cle hel­met.

The Seer head­set runs off a smart­phone, but un­like Ocu­lus and Sam­sung’s GearVR, the smart­phone screen doesn’t sit right in front of your face. In­stead, it slots into the head­set and has its screen re­flected onto a vi­sor, which gives you an AR over­lay. Seer is an early pro­to­type, with im­mi­nent plans for a Kick­starter cam­paign.

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