Tilt Five is creating a tabletop AR platform aimed at fusing traditional board games with the benefits of augmented reality. This week the company showed off a glimpse of what users can expect from the system.
Though the company is still keeping much under wraps, Tilt Five appears to be the rebirth of CastAR (which itself was initially spun out of Valve) which reportedly shut down in 2017 before it was able to get its AR system to market. In addition to sharing co-founder Jeri Ellsworth, near as we can tell Tilt Five is using the same novel approach as CastAR, though this time the company seems specifically focused on tackling tabletop gaming rather than making a broader AR system.
Though glasses are involved, the system doesn’t use a traditional lens & display setup as you’d expect from other AR headsets. Instead, the headset hides a tiny projector which beams the image onto a retroreflective pad that rests on the tabletop, effectively turning the pad into the display. The dots around the pad seen up by cameras on the headset and used to determine its position, which allows the projected image to update in real time according to the movements of the user.
The nature of the retroreflective surface means that the light from the projector bounces straight back to the user, while others nearby can’t actually see the image. That means that a single pad can be used to give perspective-correct views to multiple players (you can think of it like a 3D display which gives each user the correct view based on their position).
Tilt Five aims to use the tech as a platform for amped up board games which won’t be limited by cardboard cutouts, cards, and plastic figures.
It isn’t clear yet exactly which device would actually render the game world, or how headsets will communicate between each other for multiplayer games, but the company’s site presently says that the glasses will support Windows 10 and “select Android devices” at launch.
So far there’s no details on when Tilt Five will launch or what at what price, though the company says they’ll have more to share this Summer. Presently Tilt Five looks to be trying to build interest with developers to start experimenting with building content for the platform.