GeekWire Radio: A glimpse of ‘projected augmented reality’ with Technical Illusions

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Rick Johnson in the KIRO Radio studios. (Photos by Erynn Rose)

You’ve heard about augmented reality and virtual reality, with all the buzz about Google Glass, Oculus Rift, and other technologies designed to enhance and replace the world around us. But what about projected augmented reality?

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Todd Bishop talks with Rick Johnson of Technical Illusions on the show while trying the castAR prototype.

Our guest on this week’s GeekWire radio show is software engineer Rick Johnson, one of the co-founders of a Seattle-area company Technical Illusions, maker of augmented and virtual reality glasses called castAR. He and his co-founder, hardware engineer Jeri Ellsworth, worked previously at Valve, and their new company raised more than $1 million in a Kickstarter campaign last year.

The prototype that Johnson brought to the studio uses micro-projectors that project a holographic-style 3D image onto a reflective surface several feet in front of the person wearing the glasses — allowing users to see and interact with an immersive scene in front of their eyes.

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John Cook uses castAR with a game controller.

With a tilt of the head, the person wearing the glasses can see a different perspective on the scene, viewing the horizon by looking up, for example, or the virtual floor by looking down.

As you can see in the accompanying photos by KIRO Radio’s Erynn Rose, we actually got to test the castAR while we were recording the show — a unique experience in its own right!

Johnson talked with us about the technology, outlined the potential applications, and also told the story of the very unique circumstances that led to the formation of the company. He also shared his thoughts on the future of augmented and virtual reality, including where Facebook and Google might be headed with their implementations of the technology.

Listen to the show in the audio player below or directly via this MP3 file.

The conversation and demo with Johnson starts at 8:30, following our weekly news roundup, including our thoughts on the Amazon Fire TV, the demise of the technology formerly known as Farecast, and the end of support for Windows XP.

App of the Week: Carousel by Dropbox, for Android and iOS.

Name that Tech Tune: What is this sound? If you think you know the answer, send it to [email protected] for a chance to win a pair of tickets to the GeekWire Awards on May 8. From the pool of correct answers, we’ll pick one person at random to win a pair of tickets.

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