When I first experienced augmented reality, I was rather amazed. Through the computer's camera lens, I was able to see something that really wasn't there in real life. But, it was there! But, it really wasn't.
You could talk about augmented reality to someone who has never experienced it first hand, and that would still not be enough to explain just how transformative an experience it is. I've tried, too — explaining that it's a lot like finally being able to see something like an imaginary friend. With special glasses, a completely different world opens up to you.
I see "AR" apps aplenty, but few as immersive as I would want them to be. As someone who is more of a casual gamer, I definitely appreciate gaming experiences that are simple to understand, visually compelling, and addictive.
I picked up the AppGear Elite CommandAR, inserted the required array of batteries, plugged the audio cable into my smartphone's headphone jack, installed a compatible game, and… was firing away at moving targets within moments. Then, I was laughing — having almost too much fun, spinning around my home office and trying to target these floating orbs that weren't really there.
It was the controller that made all the difference to me, to tell you the truth. I've played AR games on smartphone surfaces alone — and while they're certainly fine, there's something to be said about holding onto an object that further thrusts you into an experience that an augmented reality world can provide.
The Elite CommandAR was light enough to hold onto for a period of time without introducing too much fatigue. Of course, I'm really not accustomed to holding my arms out or up for anything for tasks that take longer than a minute — and, yes, this toy gun (despite appearing like it would work with a single hand) was designed to be held by both hands. The trigger could be pulled comfortably by either pointer finger — but the other controls were positioned and optimized for left-handed operation (while holding onto the gun's grip with your right hand).
The trigger was quite responsive; I never felt like there was a delay in between the time I'd press a button and something would happen on-screen. Same goes for any of the other controller buttons.
The suggested games, themselves, were engaging enough to keep me from wanting to put the plastic pistol down! I found myself walking to a more open space (than what's available to me in my home office), spinning around to fight virtual enemies through a very comfortable viewfinder — my smartphone.
And that's the kicker: not only does it work well with iOS, but Android as well. Too many products these days are locked into a single vertical. This way, you could battle a friend in the 2-player co-op mode and not have to be running on the same smartphone platform.
So, yeah — you could continue to play games on that single flat screen device. But when it comes to first-person shooters… I tell ya, I'd rather be holding onto something that feels like a gun instead of merely tapping a screen. It's far more compelling an experience that way — and the Elite CommandAR provides a perfect compliment to software that's easy to manage and plays well.
I'd much rather play a game on my smartphone than connect to a cumbersome console. With Elite CommandAR, I was untethered and free to take the screen with me wherever I wanted to play. Mobile gaming, as I've been saying for years, will kill consoles eventually — and these types of accessories serve to bring that future into the present.