The minds at Disney Research are taking a new approach to multiplayer gaming with SideBySide, a dual-player platform that uses handheld projectors to allow people to game together on their nearest wall. It consists of two controllers, each made up of an infrared camera, a pico projector, and a traditional action button. While most systems rely on Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, however, SideBySide's controllers communicate optically. The projectors are modified to display both a visible image — your boxer in a boxing game, for example — and an IR marker, unseen by the human eye. These markers are then picked up by the cameras in each controller, letting the system know where your boxer is in relation to the other player, when you're throwing a punch, or when you've been K.O.'d. The prototype system currently relies on a MacBook Pro for processing, but self-contained units would obviously be the goal.
The current test titles are quite crude, with monochromatic graphics and limited gameplay, but the researchers see the technology itself as having much broader uses. They've already demoed contact and file sharing applications, utilizing infrared QR codes to pass information, and an 3D model viewer that allows both users to manipulate the view of a modeled object in real time. With the team moving to formal user studies next, we wouldn't be surprised to see the technology making its way to store shelves sooner rather than later. Check out the video below to see the system in action.