News: Jeri Ellsworth's Tilt Five Teases Forthcoming Augmented Reality Twist on Board Gaming

Jeri Ellsworth's Tilt Five Teases Forthcoming Augmented Reality Twist on Board Gaming

While augmented reality industry continues to grow, analog board games are also making a comeback. So, why not join the two together?

That's the gist behind Tilt Five, an augmented reality headset that projects 3D content onto a game board. Players interact with the games via a handheld controller that looks like a Nintendo Wii controller with Harry Potter's wand stuck on one end.

Image by Tilt Five/YouTube

The video, released on May 14, is the second teaser dropped on to Tilt Five's YouTube channel. Both videos include footage shot through the glasses that will come with the gaming set up,

From the games previewed in the videos, the game content spans from 8-bit era video games to well-rendered 3D scenes taking place on game board. While the AR game set comes with a controller, a teaser post on Twitter, featuring a robot that seems to know it is being poked, suggesting the games might include hand gesture input as well. According to a company spokesperson, Tilt Five is currently working with third-party developers to create content for the system.

Other tweets from the company show off the smartglasses themselves, which are not unlike Nreal Light in appearance. The company will make an appearance at XOXO in Portland in September to show off the smartglasses to attendees.

Tilt Five has an impressive pedigree, with AR/VR veteran Jeri Ellsworth serving as co-founder and CEO. Ellsworth has worked to bring augmented reality to the mainstream since 2012.

Image by Tilt Five/YouTube

In 2013, she founded castAR, which she developed during her time at Valve Corporation. CastAR and its hybrid AR/VR glasses got off to a promising start, with a $15 million Series A, a successful Kickstarter campaign, and, according to Ellsworth's LinkedIn, 200 units produced.

Unfortunately, the company folded in June 2017 amid financial troubles. According to a company spokesperson, Ellsworth and a handful of castAR employees pooled their resources to buy back the technology and assets to form Tilt Five later that year.

A video posted to YouTube in Oct. 2018 explaining the difference between near-eye projection (as used in HoloLens, Magic Leap One, and just about all other AR headsets and smartglasses) and far-eye projection features with the Tilt Five prototype standing in as the example of the latter method. Instead of a waveguide display reflecting projected light into the eye, far-eye projection reflects light onto a board, which bounces images back to the eye.

Also, the video reveals that the Tilt Five controller's wand includes four LED lights, which enable it to act like a mouse that can move in 3D space and manipulate AR content. The prototype smartglasses shown in the video also tether to a computer pack (emblazoned with castAR's logo in this video).

According to a company spokesperson, the production version of the Tilt Five smartglasses will do away with the computer puck, and instead will connect to smartphone or computer via USB-C to reduce the overall price of the product. In addition, the wand controller will be capable of six degrees of freedom tracking.

The company is not prepared to share further details about when the product will be available or how much it will cost just yet. However, In the meantime, interested parties can sign up at the company's website for updates.

Tilt Five is not the only company with the idea to bring board games into the future, as Spatial Gaming launched their take on augmented reality gaming on Kickstarter last year.

However, Spatial doubled its fund-raising goal, which demonstrates the gaming community's appetite for tech-infused board games. In that context, Tilt Five has a decent shot at fulfilling Ellsworth's mainstream AR ambitions. Then again, castAR also had a monster Kickstarter, so we'll have to wait and see how this plays out.

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Cover image via Tilt Five/YouTube

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