Sony’s virtual Air Hockey – a sneak peek to future augment reality

The annual tech and entertainment meet-up, SXSW is taking place in Austin and Sony is back at SXSW to showcase its weird gadgets, games, and prototypes that all rely, in one way or another, on Sony technology. The exhibit, called the Wow Factory, is an opportunity for the Japanese tech giant’s engineers and artists to collaborate on experimental projects.

Sony exhibited its augmented reality Air Hockey concept at SXSW, and it was impressively fun. Officially called “A(i)R Hockey,” the concept combined Sony’s light projection tech and haptic sensors to create a next-level air hockey game. It is a three-way augmented reality air hockey game Sony developed specifically for the Wow Factor this year. The game features a physical hockey puck and three physical paddles around the custom circular table. But the table is also making use of two of Sony’s new IMX382 visual sensors, which can detect and track objects at 1,000 frames per second. One sensor sits above the table to track the puck, and another sits below to track players’ paddles. An overhead projector meanwhile overlays the game interface and virtual pucks onto the surface of the table.

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But still you won’t be able to enjoy that sound of clack when you hit the ball, but the haptic sensors give just enough feedback to make you feel like you’re actually hitting something when you strike one of the virtual pucks.

But most importantly, the addition of haptics and augmented reality actually makes your air hockey matches more fun.

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But this is for now just a concept, one of many Sony showed off at its Wow Studio at SXSW. No word yet on whether there’s any hope of it making its way out of Sony’s labs. But we’ll be ready when it does.

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