When you play a computer game, you interact with what is on your monitor, even if you're outside playing on a mobile phone. You don't interact with your physical environment. Now, computer scientists from Fraunhofer FIT want you to play outside, sharing the outdoor experience offered by children's games. NetAttack "is a new type of indoor/outdoor Augmented Reality game that makes the actual physical environment an inherent part of the game itself." In this game, two teams are fighting to destroy the central database of a virtual big company. Both teams have indoor players, who control the game from their laptop computers, and outdoor players, equipped with GPS receivers, trackers, sensors and video cameras.
First, what's the purpose of the game?
The goal of the game is to destroy the central database of a big (virtual) corporation. In order to achieve this goal, teams must compete for items that will finally allow them to compose a secret password, thereby enabling them to destroy the database. Actions and moves depend on individual position, the competing teams and communication within a team.
Here are some details about the players.
The game experience depends on whether you choose to be an indoor or an outdoor player. The indoor player sits in front of a desktop computer and supports the outdoor player with valuable information, such as where to find hidden items, how to delay or disadvantage competing teams and what to do next to win the game. The outdoor player, equipped with a backpack full of technology, rushes around a predefined game field trying to collect items.
Outdoor players are equipped with GPS receivers, inertial trackers and video cameras to determine their positions and orientations. Computer-vision tracking is used to refine the GPS-tracking data. Data from various sensors are merged using sensor fusion to obtain the necessary precision. Head-sets support communication between the players of each team.
||This image shows gamers from two opposing teams almost bumping into each other. These two persons wearing backpacks and helmets of different colors with several pieces of hardware attached, including a semi-transparent personal display. They stand close to each other, but back-to-back, focusing on potential enemies in opposing directions (Credit: Fraunhofer FIT).|
||And this one shows what a gamer see through his 3D personal display. The virtual object can be anything, including a weapon (Credit: Fraunhofer FIT).|
||Finally, this one shows the operator in front of his console. The user interface is essentially a stylized high-resolution map of the mixed reality game world plus a repository of virtual tools and an indicator of elapsed game time (Credit: Fraunhofer FIT).|
If you happen to be this year in Sankt Augustin, near Bonn, Germany, where the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology (FIT) is located, you might have the chance to play this game. The Institute plans to make it available to the public several times this year. Here is NetAttack home page
Sources: Irma Lindt and Wolfgang Broll, ERCIM News No. 57, April 2004; NetAttack home page at Fraunhofer FIT