One of the biggest reasons parents don’t want their kids playing video games is that it means they’re stuck on a couch all day long ⏤ and, thus, not out getting any exercise. But what if to play those video games, kids had to actually run around the house or yard, because it was the actual battlefield, and they were ‘inside’ the game? That would make it better, right? Well, that’s exactly the idea behind Merge’s new 6DoF (“Six Degrees of Freedom”) Blaster, a virtual reality shooter game that lets players battle both on screen and in real life.
Similar to Skyrocket Toy’s Recoil, another A/R laser tag game that debuted last year, 6DoF is essentially a two-grip toy blaster that attaches to a smartphone. Simply slide the phone in, fire up the app, and you’re ready to do battle in virtual/augmented reality. It uses positional tracking technology (SLAM, ARKit, ARCore) so when you run, jump, and duck behind the couch, it runs, jumps, and ducks on screen with you ⏤ no goggles required though.
And that’s what’s especially cool about the Merge ⏤ it’s not Pokémon-style augmented reality. During a battle, you’re not looking at an opponent on-screen standing in your kitchen, as you would if you were trying to a catch a Charizard. Rather, it tracks the actual opponent in the room, but on the phone’s screen, they’re inside a video game battlefield as if you were wearing a pair of VR glasses. They call it handheld VR.
It’s also cool for a couple of other reasons: First, gamers will be able to play against opponents online as they would with a traditional gaming system, but now they don’t have to sit in front of the television the entire time; and second, Merge has opened up the “Blaster SDK to developers and games studios worldwide” in hopes that they’ll create games and accessories ⏤ so there could be a ton of fun action down the road. Only time will tell.
Right now, the 6DoF Blaster is slated to hit stores the summer and will cost $50. Until then, you can read more about it on the Merge website.