Augmented reality (AR) is moving a lot more quickly in the world than its more advanced brother virtual reality. AR has entered the tech world in a variety of ways. It’s been used in commerce to promote products and make them look more desirable. It’s also been used in applications like Google Earth to help with navigation and other useful tasks. However useful these applications may be, it’s arguably found its biggest niche in the gaming sector. Inspired by the surge in popularity of Pokémon Go app and others like it, we’re now seeing a new form of mobile augmented reality in the form of Oak.
This startup is asking for donations on Kickstarter to bring AR to homes in a new, customizable way.
Oak is a ToneTree development that hinges on the fact that everyone carries a smartphone these days. The ability to tap into virtual reality with a smartphone is fun and immersive for people, as we saw with the Pokémon Go phenomenon.
“The computers we’re carrying around every day in our pockets are becoming extremely powerful,” says Brian Cook, co-founder and CEO of the startup ToneTree. “The phone can just begin to realize what’s around it, and you can start to interact with objects that are in the real world. You begin to be able to have the same precision, the same intimacy a sculptor might have with their art.”
Though the price has not yet been announced, ToneTree says that this will be a highly affordable version of AR. Co-founder Max Escaler says, “We are creating the first mobile AR platform for consumers. Think of us as Google Cardboard of AR.”
It’s a little too early to tell whether or not they can actually claim the title “Google Cardboard or AR,” but they are trying to bring a more affordable version of AR to the table. Literally to the table. It comes with a special dock that turns any flat surface or tabletop into an AR playground. It can detect objects in front of the phone and the app will interact according to your movements.
“We made a dock for your phone and it turns the whole space in front of it into an augmented reality playground,” Cook continues. “For a long time, the only way to interact with a computer was with a mouse and a keyboard, but now we have OAK, this platform that anyone can afford.”
The unique thing about OAK is that it comes with a variety of kits to make the AR experience more fun according to you liking. Escalerannounced on Product Hunt that ToneTree would be offering four kits upon release of OAK. These kits would include the following:
· The Rockstar Kit, which lets you transform any surface into any instrument. Just place the included pads down in front of OAK and start jamming! It’s like a music studio in your pocket.
· The Card Kit,which lets you turn your tabletop into a battlefield. Collect powerful AR trading cards, place them in front of the Oak and watch them come to life as you battle your friends.
· The Explorer Kit, which lets you pilot your own space ship. Use a toy ship to dodge asteroids and battle enemies as you explore deep space.
· The Developer Kit, which allows you to create your own augmented reality apps. Our powerful SDK is built on top of familiar iOS APIs to make developing AR fast, affordable and easy.
Each kit comes with a collection of items called “totems.” The totems are different for each kit, but they’re simple items like pads, cards, and plastic toys. For example, the Explorer Kit comes with a plastic airplane that you pilot while exploring deep space, and the Rockstar Kit comes with simple pads that can play music.
Here’s how it works: You place your iPhone on the OAK Dock, launch the affiliated app, choose one of the four kits, and begin your play. As you use the associated kits, the iPhone screen will cooperate with your movements in order for the action to unfold. The playing field can even be projected onto your TV for a larger-than-life experience for the whole family.
“Once you place your phone on the OAK Dock, ordinary objects become extraordinary,” Escalar stated in the promotional video. “Whether you want to turn your table into a music studio or turn a toy into a game controller, anything is possible.”