Spatial is launching a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for a new kind of mixed reality device that uses holographic projection to overlay animations on top of tabletop gaming.
The Spatial mobile device accessory is meant to create face-to-face entertainment between two people who compete by looking through the holographic screen to see what lies on the tabletop. You can throw an object on the table and it can spur an animation that you can see on the holographic screen.
It is the brainchild of Kerry Shih and the Redondo Beach, California-based team at Spatial that began working on the project in 2016. While video games are often about anonymous online competition, Spatial is aimed at bringing back a more interpersonal experience, by getting people to gather around the table to play games.
“Spatial started as a way to do gaming on mobile devices in a face-to-face setting,” Shih said in an interview with GamesBeat. “I remember the joy of tabletop gaming, laughing at my brother’s face when I beat him in a game.”
The idea was to get rid of a formal screen in a gaming device, and to do augmented reality imagery in real time. Shih funded the project on his own, as he had money from “the modest success of previous companies.”
Spatial has been working with independent game studios to create curated mixed reality tabletop games. The company has five games in the works, and it has signed up 10 game studios to contribute games to its curated marketplace.
“I wanted this to be physical, a digital tabletop, with a display that you can see through,” Shih said. “We call it projected AR. You are not staring at a screen. You can see things projected on the table.”
For Kickstarter supporters, the cost will be $60. They can download an app and play some of the games now.
“We don’t need an Xbox or something very expensive for this kind of experience,” Shih said. “It’s going to be very accessible, as a mobile accessory.”