The PlayStation Vita Somehow Makes Augmented Reality Look Amazing

This is augmented reality, but not as you know it.

Usually, AR in video games is a tedious gimmick, reliant on either incredibly simple, overlaid images or specially-made cards being placed in specially-designated positions. But Sony's PlayStation Vita can now do proper, three-dimensional AR all on its own. No tricks, no cards. All it needs is its camera and the real world.

In this video, shot at the Game Developers Conference, a prototype piece of software called Magnet is shown to Kotaku's Stephen Totilo. The Vita is pointed at a rug, the Vita marks positions on the rug to get its bearings, then bam, there's ducks. Rendered, and viewed through the screen appearing as though they're actually sitting right there, in the real world.

Sony calls it "markerless augmented reality". How well this could actually work in the real world, running proper games (as in, beyond a basic version of Pong), is anyone's guess. Tech like this always tends to wow on the showroom floor then disappoint later. But as an idea, one that could make excellent use of the Vita's camera and glorious screen, it's a promising one.


    That is a very convenient pattern on the rug they have there. Almost as if it was chosen due to the nice patterns and squares that could be used to orient a camera.

      Pretty much this. Although it may be a work in progress, i think the main problem at the moment is that it may have problems working on surfaces where there is no distinguishable features. Although this was demonstrated with the vita, i still reckon that this could actually be a Kinect style camera in the works for the ps3/ps4 and they are using the vita as a smaller and easier place to start with.

    Clever, but it looks like you would still need to play it on a surface with some sort of unique pattern, why else would they bring a rug like that to GDC?

      Not calling shenanigans, just wondering if that tech would work on a less decorative surface or whether you would always need a surface with recognisable patterns on it.

        See my comment.

    Seriously that rug looks just like a Nintendo AR card, I *am* calling shenanigans.

    Shenanignans! Shenanignans! SHENANIGANS!

      /me nods

    It works using an extremely fast "Find edges" filter. It works on heaps of untextured surfaces. Sony have been doing this for a few years with PSEye.

      Ja I was thinking it would just make a 1 bit image of the rug then check for deformations. Just a guess. If it's done either of those two ways then, yes, an unpatterned surface wont work, right?

      I understand the way this works, all I'm saying is they have effectivly chosen surfaces that will enhance the accuracy of their tracking.

      (but not my spelling)

    AR with out those stupid AR cards... it finally has an application.

    So instead of cards we now need to take a Persian rug. Am I the only one thinking this is a step backwards? :P

    It's so much easier to troll than be optimistic.

    "Markerless" refers to AR-Card-less reference points. Of course it needs recognisable landmarks in the viewer. What's the point of AR on a blank page?

    For eg, if you play Reality Fighters, against the background of say a desk, the fighters can fall off the desk onto a lower part of the arena., like the floor. A tad more fun than EyePet. But hey, I'm a sucker for gimmicks, obv.

    Why is everyone calling shenanigans or appearing confused/angry over the rug? He mentions the rug that has "a nice amount of detail in it" in the video pretty much saying you will need a surface with lots of detail for it to work.

    That is excellent; it sucks having to get out those cards everytime you want to play an AR game.

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