Things are always high tech around here, although recently Draw & Code HQ has become more futuristic than ever. Over the last few months we have become developers for a new wave of gadgets that may revolutionise the way we live; which is about as exciting as developing can possibly get.
OK, so we haven’t started developing for all these devices, let alone properly explored and exploited each one. There are so many great new pieces of kit emerging that it takes all our time to get the most out of them. So here are some initial thoughts on the latest additions to our development arsenal.
It seems trite to say this, but an Oculus Rift development kit is hardly a sign that you are the most unique developer around (50,000 have been made so far!) yet it is still the piece of kit that gets the most attention in our office when we have visitors. We are one of a very few virtual reality developers in Liverpool, so this totally immersive experience is still a novelty in these parts. It is also the technology that you’ve been wishing for since virtual reality entered the lexicon at the start of the nineties. If you wanted to revive the amusement arcade, start with an Oculus Rift: it is finally a piece of kit that offers you something that is not found on your average home games console. For now.
The Oculus has been one of the lucky devices that has actually been lavished with a lot of attention from both the coders and also the drawing folk. Although we are not ready to reveal exactly what it involves, we are deep into the development of real-world virtual environments. The same 3D models are also being used in an augmented reality setting on the good old iPad. This will eventually come together in a project that we will be revealing soon.
We were so pleased to be accepted as a developer for Microsoft’s Kinect 2. Only a handful of companies will get access to these dev kits; now the kit has arrived in what looks to all intents and purposes like a shoebox. Within was a host of wires and the slim, glossy box that we will be standing in front of a lot over the coming months.
Obviously the first thing we did was plug it in and start jumping around in front of it. It was crying out to be done. Our messing about did show just how well the kit could track multiple players, even in a dim light. So far we are impressed – and we already have a couple of crazy ideas for video games that use it.
If you like the idea of Kinect, but standing up seems a little too much, then Leap Motion is for you. It features hand movement sensors that allow you to dispense with your computer’s mouse and wave your hands around instead. It’s a cliche of course, but it has to be said; it’s all very Minority Report. So far we have enjoyed the mini-games packaged with the Leap Motion hardware, but we have yet to use it with our own work.
These are great little toys that could revolutionise the way we go shopping. Each ‘Mote’ is a proximity sensing device that can be used to create a slicker and more personalised shopping experience. It allows marketing, reminders and warnings to be sent directly to mobile devices. Each Estimote Beacon looks like a stylish air freshener, especially as they are designed to attach to the wall, out of sight and out of mind. The code is effectively ‘supplied’ with the sumptuously-packaged pastel-coloured devices, so it’s easy to get into Estimote. We have a lot of experience developing websites and apps for health and fitness brands, so we are currently investigating possible uses for beacons within that industry. Watch this space.
We’re developing for this. Honest. Well, we have mapped out a cracking game concept and this is one of the devices that we intend to design it for. Why? Because not only is the Playstation Vita a gorgeous bit of kit, it has a thriving indie gaming community that we would dearly love to be a part of. While 99% of games get lost in the App Store, our next video game will have a far greater chance of standing out and getting noticed on Sony’s handheld machine. The office has fallen in love with the Vita far more than we have with the PS4, which says it all.