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Gamers excited over Woodinville startup’s 3D glasses

  • Written by Shannon Michael, Features Writer

Technical Illusions, a Woodinville-based startup, is garnering a lot of attention in the gaming world with the promise of its 3D glasses for gamers. Co-founders Jeri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson are the team behind the new concept.

The 3D glasses use a concept for augmented or virtual reality, called castAR, that inserts players inside the games they play. Tiny projectors – one for each eye – on the glasses, combined with a special folding reflective material, called RFID that can be hung up on a wall or to cover a table and the use of a "magic wand" accessory, display holographic-like 3D projections right in front of the user. The wand allows for gamer interaction with figures created by software.

It was a scene in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope showing R2-D2 and Chewbacca playing a holographic 3D chess-style game that inspired the castAR 3D glasses, taking almost 35 years for the technological dream to become a reality.

A prototype of the glasses has already been demonstrated at gaming trade shows and received high praise and excitement over the future availability of the product to consumers.

To get the product off the ground, Ellsworth and Johnson began a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign with a goal of $400,000 to help them expand the 3D glasses technology. They knew they only had a month to reach their goal, but it took just a little over two days before it was surpassed because many people around the world like Technical Illusions’ concept for the glasses.

With November 14 as the one-month Kickstarter deadline, they have raised almost $735,000 from over 2,800 backers. Meeting the revised $600,000 goal helped fund a customizable dungeon tile mapper for use with the RFID tracking grid or Magic Wand. Next, they set a $700,000 goal, which will now allow personal video software for use with surface or clip-ons for a wide screen feel. If they can achieve their current $800,000 goal by November 14, they will be able to add earbuds and an integrated mic for positional audio and team-based communication.

Because their Kickstarter goal was achieved so quickly, Ellsworth and Johnson can now prepare castAR for manufacturing, with a projected price of $189 to sell their product to consumers.

In an interview with KING5 News, Johnson, a 20-year veteran of the industry, said this was his first opportunity to be on the forefront of creating the next generation of gaming technology.

Johnson works on the software and programming, while Ellsworth handles the hardware and chip design.

On their Kickstarter crowdfunding page they describe some of the features of castAR glasses. They’ll fit over prescription eyewear and weigh only slightly more than a pair of sunglasses.

They strive to make castAR the most versatile head-mounted display available, adding that they offer an attachment that transforms castAR into a true virtual reality system as well as a true augmented reality system, which will give the user the choice to choose their reality preference using just one system.

According to the Kickstarter funding page, the estimated delivery of the new 3D glasses will be in September 2014.

To learn more, visit the company’s website, www.TechnicalIllusions.com, where a link to their Kickstarter page is provided.

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