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Summary:

When Valve laid off some of its staff earlier this year, the CastAR was put on ice. But now it’s revived, and seeking funding on Kickstarter

castARVR
photo: Technical Illusions

Earlier this year, Valve employees Jeri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson were fired, and the product they had spent more than a year working on — augmented reality system castAR — was put on ice. However, despite the layoffs, Ellsworth and Johnson were able to reach an agreement with Valve CEO Gabe Newell to continue the castAR project full-time — and they’ve created a Kickstarter campaign for their company, Technical Illusions, to bring the hardware to life.

CastAR is a hybrid AR/VR system that, when worn or clipped onto traditional glasses, produces hologram-like projections into the user’s field of vision. The eye-tracking technology within castAR can enable users to visualize the details of a designated surface, creating an AR experience that is affixed to a certain point, not traveling about the room.

castAR

The product itself consists of a lightweight (just 100 grams, OR 3.5 ounces) pair of glasses, embedded with two micro-projectors — one for each eye. The glasses can interact with two proprietary peripherals, a “magic wand” controller to move software elements and an RFID tracking grid that allows the player to place “real world” objects into the scene, like a player piece for Dungeons and Dragons.

But AR is not the only thing that castAR can accomplish. Currently, the device utilizes a clip-on attachment for a “True AR” experience — one that doesn’t require a specialized surface to work on. That same attachment can project VR simulations when connected to a computer, and it’s an area that Technical Illusions is seeking to expand.

The Kickstarter campaign, which launched today, has already received more than $33,000 in pledges (as of this writing). That’s a bit of a ways off from the $400,000 needed to make castAR a reality, but considering Ellsworth and Johnson’s dedication to the project (and superior pedigrees), it’s likely that the hardware is poised to become another blockbuster campaign.

  1. People on Kickstarter,are funding anything. That’s why this project was on ice…but due to the investment of time several people put in, they have a hard time letting go.

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