Augmented reality, which brings together the physical and digital worlds, holds much promise for gaming. So why do most augmented-reality games suck? Here's the key: Most aren't true augmented reality. They're little more than animations overlaid on a video feed.
Enter Ball Invasion, a game from Swedish software developer 13th Lab. The iPad 2 game is a leap forward. It's also simple: Shoot a stream of round black bullets at the colorful balls that emerge on your screen. Unlike other augmented-reality games, however, you can bounce your animated bullets off the real walls around you. Check out the video below.
Here's what goes on under the hood. Ball Invasion uses Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) to build and continuously update a 3D digital representation of the physical space in the iPad camera's field of view. This is the technology many robots, including NASA planetary rovers, use to get a sense of where they are.… Read more