Dead Valve AR project lives again on Kickstarter

Written by David Hing

October 15, 2013 | 12:59

Tags: #ar #vr

Companies: #castar #kickstarter #technical-illusions #valve

An abandoned Valve augmented reality project, castAR, has made its way to Kickstarter in an attempt to salvage a consumer release.

The in-development hardware consists of a pair of glasses that operate on a virtual reality and augmented reality system. It is being worked on by two former Valve employees, Jeri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson.

The glasses use two small projectors above each lens that need to reflect off a special surface that is also part of the system and placed in front of the user. The device also has head tracking functionality through the use of a built in camera and infrared markers.

Instead of full virtual reality, one of the inspirations mentioned on the Kickstarter page is the game of holographic 3D chess that R2-D2 and Chewbacca play against each other in Star Wars.

For developers, castAR will have an SDK to help them access tracking data as well as RFID data for the input wand that operates the system. RFID tags can also be used with board gaming pieces to help track statistics such as health bars during tabletop games.

As well as having its own SDK, castAR will also be compatible with Unity with the inclusion of the system's interface script.

The crowd funding campaign is looking for $400,000 and at the time of writing, it has already raised $242,591 from 995 backers with 30 days left to go.

Ellsworth was working on castAR before she was fired by Valve in February this year and she was granted the legal rights to continue working on the project outside of the company. Ellsworth has spoken out against the company culture and unusual management structure at Valve, describing the environment as feeling 'a lot like high school' in interviews.
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