Kickstarter Spotlight: AppTag

Kickstarter Spotlight: AppTag

Feb 15, 2012

Most of the KickStarter projects done here are just applications looking to make the jump onto Android, but AppTag is something truly creative; it breaks the mold by creating a physical game that uses a smartphone as the brain as well as a visual enhancement. This idea, borne from the mind of Australian inventor Jon Atherton, is to make a game that combines augmented reality with laser tag. This is done by attaching a special clip onto the rail of most NERF or similar toy guns and clipping a pressure density pad onto the trigger. The phone is held on the top of the back of the gun and displays an augmented reality with real-time stats and overlays on top of whatever the camera can see. This idea of allowing the whole system to be quickly swapped between guns is nothing short of genius, because it also makes the whole system very inexpensive.

The AppTag devices supposedly communicate between one another by using sound frequencies as opposed to bluetooth or WiFi. This makes the game simpler but I cannot help but question how efficient and reliable this will be. Another concern is the augmented reality feature. I have played a lot with augmented reality before on devices such as the Nintendo 3DS and the effect, at the most, was barely convincing.

Unfortunately, I have a hard time believing that a few coders, even from Australia, can pull off a better augmented reality simulator then Nintendo. But if – and it’s a big “if” – Jon and his team can get the augmented reality to just work well enough, this project is very exciting. Imagine playing an intense game of laser tag with a full HUD displaying health, enemy positions, and medkits or weapons. This almost begs the question of where NERF was all these years with their vast sums of cash and immense R+D team.

I remain cautiously optimistic about AppTag, but if it pans out there is no doubt I may be one of the first in line to order myself a pair.

Joseph Bertolini
Joseph is an Mechanical Engineering student at The Ohio State University as well as an amateur photographer.
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