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Apple envisions interactive, augmented reality iPhone multiplayer games

post #1 of 16
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A new patent application from Apple describes iPhone games that would use the device's many sensors and capabilities -- including motion detection, GPS and camera -- to offer a new way to play and compete with friends in a real-life 3D space.

The application revealed this week, entitled "Interactive Gaming with Co-Located, Networked Direction and Location Aware Devices," describes a gaming system on an iPhone that would create an augmented reality by using the device's camera and sensing the device's location and orientation. This same "reality" would be shared by other, nearby iPhone gamers, and positioning data of each iPhone would be shared wirelessly over Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or a cellular signal.

By sharing the exact position and orientation of another user's iPhone, this system would allow the gamer to actually see and track a player on the screen.

In one example given in the application, a virtual crosshair appears on the iPhone screen, overlaying a live video image captured by the iPhone's camera. In this game, users could "fire" at an opponent in their crosshairs, and the game would be able to track whether the other user was "shot" based on the shared location data.

The application describes a number of iPhones sharing their coordinates in a three-dimensional space, relying on the sensors within the handset, including accelerometers, gyroscopes, GPS and a magnetic compass.

Apple's gaming implementation would have users lay their iPhones, or other portable devices, down next to each other, flat on a table, in close proximity. This would allow the system to calibrate and create a fixed Cartesian coordinate in a three-dimensional space.

Users would then pick up their phone and could move about to play an interactive game. The handsets would wirelessly communicate with one another, sharing their location in real-time, and allowing for interactive activities like the ability to "shoot" an opponent.



The system could also be used in connection with accessories, which could make the experience even more interactive.

"The game devices can include attachments," the application reads. "For example, a 'gun' can be attached to a game device and used by a player to target other players in the real world game environment. In this case, the orientation of the 'gun' relative to the game device can be determined."



The patent filing notes that current iPhone games use the accelerometer to allow users to move the device control a game, like steering a vehicle. In these games, the user manipulates the iPhone in response to game action.

Apple's method would instead have the game react to the user's motion, tracking their position in a 3D space. The application notes that a variety of interactive games, including something like laser tag, could utilize the relative positions and orientations of devices to create an entirely new gaming experience.

The application was made public this week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. It was first applied for in April of 2009, and is credited to Ronald Keryuan Huang, Rob Mayor, Isabel Mahe, and Patrick Piemonte.
post #2 of 16
This is curious. I saw a youtube video for an augmented reality game that seams very similar to this idea a while back... I'll see if I can scrounge it up. It was supposed to be an iOS game, but I couldn't find it in the store at the time.

C
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post #3 of 16
This seems like an awesome idea! Leave it to Apple to Lead in technological aspect of integrating several technologies together to make an amazing experience.

Looking forward to it!
post #4 of 16
Uhoh... I foresee another round of patient lawsuits in the future...

http://androidandme.com/2010/07/news...ts-on-android/
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post #5 of 16
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Originally Posted by AsianBob View Post

Uhoh... I foresee another round of patient lawsuits in the future...

http://androidandme.com/2010/07/news...ts-on-android/

That uses a play grid on which 3D characters are superimposed. Not really the same as what's being described here. Both augmented reality apps to be sure, but Apple isn't trying to patent "augmented reality" in general.
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post #6 of 16
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Originally Posted by addabox View Post

That uses a play grid on which 3D characters are superimposed. Not really the same as what's being described here. Both augmented reality apps to be sure, but Apple isn't trying to patent "augmented reality" in general.

I do see how they can be different, but at the same time, evolve into quite similar products. I hope this doesn't go into the patent wars realm as I would like to see this go cross-platform.

Humans vs. Zombies anyone?
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post #7 of 16
This what our culture has been crying out for;
more ways to shoot each other.
post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by AsianBob View Post

I do see how they can be different, but at the same time, evolve into quite similar products. I hope this doesn't go into the patent wars realm as I would like to see this go cross-platform.

Humans vs. Zombies anyone?

I agree, it would be best if the underlying conventions of augmented reality (locating/tracking objects in space and placing them in a virtual environment, placing virtual objects in real space, or combinations of the two) were largely shared tech.

However, I'm going to assume this will play out like most stuff, with specific implementations seeking patent protection. You can't patent the idea of a virtual object being placed in real space, but you can certainly patent your particular way of achieving that. If your implementation really is superior, it's understandable that you wouldn't want your competitors to have free license to copy.

OTOH, augmented reality may be one of those fundamental paradigms that rapidly takes off and becomes a building block of a lot of common functionality. In that case we may see the acceptance of some broadly interoperable frameworks (probably necessary since augmented reality apps will inevitably have web and social components) with the patent action limited to very specific "killer features" used for platform differentiation. For instance, it wouldn't be entirely surprising if Apple or Google started pushing some open source ideas, ala Facetime, in order to drive adoption and standardization.
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post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by 801 View Post

This what our culture has been crying out for;
more ways to shoot each other.

It does strike me that Apple's famously prudish approach to mobile apps doesn't appear to include any distaste for gunning one another down, even if only in play. While the a glimpse of breast is apparently right out.

In that they're simply mirroring our culture at large, which is much more comfortable with brutalizing bodies than with caressing them.
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post #10 of 16
Hey, Apple. I'll give you a freebie.

Make a virtual track for runners using the GPS and VoiceOver (include also other background sound effects, like crowds cheering). Here's how it works. Runner runs the course they prefer and GPS coordinates are recorded, total distance, time of day, etc. The course can be uploaded to a public database for others to run or match or beat the time. Next time the runner runs the course, a "ghost runner" is simulated over the headphones and the runner is constantly fed information encouraging them to beat their previous time.

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post #11 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Hey, Apple. I'll give you a freebie.

Make a virtual track for runners using the GPS and VoiceOver (include also other background sound effects, like crowds cheering). Here's how it works. Runner runs the course they prefer and GPS coordinates are recorded, total distance, time of day, etc. The course can be uploaded to a public database for others to run or match or beat the time. Next time the runner runs the course, a "ghost runner" is simulated over the headphones and the runner is constantly fed information encouraging them to beat their previous time.

Where's the runner running on? A treadmill? And holding up an iPhone to see this virtual course? Might work if the iPhone had at least a 19" display.
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post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post

Where's the runner running on? A treadmill? And holding up an iPhone to see this virtual course? Might work if the iPhone had at least a 19" display.

The runner is running outdoors. The "virtual track" is one created by recording the GPS tracking information. When the course is run again by the runner, they are guided by audio cues.

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post #13 of 16
I'm thrilled that apple are finally on the gaming bandwagon but that's totally not an "invention". The table calibration is already used by wii motion plus (and probably elsewhere). Augmented reality is what gaming has been evolving towards for some time now. Multitouch is a great advance for gaming and works well for some types of games (eliss, osmos, carcassone) but we'd see more satisfying, console-quality platformers on the app store if there was support for a tactile d-pad and tactile buttons.
post #14 of 16
post #15 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dunks View Post

I'm thrilled that apple are finally on the gaming bandwagon but that's totally not an "invention". The table calibration is already used by wii motion plus (and probably elsewhere). Augmented reality is what gaming has been evolving towards for some time now. Multitouch is a great advance for gaming and works well for some types of games (eliss, osmos, carcassone) but we'd see more satisfying, console-quality platformers on the app store if there was support for a tactile d-pad and tactile buttons.

Did you even read the article? Part of what's being described is basically free range laser tag with nothing but iPhones to track and tag the other players. Wii does that, does it?

A game console with a sensor is one thing. A pocketable handset with geolocation, compass, accelerometer, video camera and ubiquitous connectivity is really something else altogether. It allows for augmenting your day to day, walking around reality, not just your living room in front of your TV.
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post #16 of 16
I agree. Definitely not impossible. Apple has had breakthroughs in technology, I think no one would date question that. The iPad itself is successful and was of course highly anticipated prior to its release. This vision of augmented reality is not too far.
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