Merge Outs 6DoF Blaster For Android Phone-Enabled AR Gaming – CES 2018

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Merge on Sunday announced the latest addition to its augmented reality ecosystem in the form of the 6DoF Blaster, a toy gun-shaped accessory meant to support certain (Android) smartphone-powered AR gaming experiences. While the same gadget could theoretically be used in virtual reality environments, its primary focus appears to be AR, especially since it can be used in conjunction with a handset and doesn't require you to own a VR headset, standalone or otherwise. The top of the gun features a dock for sitting your mobile device of choice, whereas various apps will be tasked with generating AR elements for you to shoot at. The company essentially set out to create an evolution of a traditional toy gun and claims it's been successful in its efforts to do so. Consumers presently aren't able to judge the device for themselves as it's only planned for a summer release at an unspecified price tag. Likewise, the availability of the 6DoF Blaster has yet to be clarified, though the gadget may end up launching on a global level given Merge's general ambitions to bring VR and AR experiences to as many people as possible.

The toy gun itself is brightly colored and no variants other than the one seen above have announced. It's meant to be held in two hands, with each resting on a separate trigger and having access to a reprogrammable function button. Besides those four physical triggers, the 6DoF Blaster features no other controls, with the bulk of the AR experience being generated by the smartphone sitting on top of the device. In practice, games for Merge's platform should play like an AR, player-versus-environment version of laser tag, though it's currently unclear whether the solution will also support multiplayer titles. As far as tracking is concerned, the name of the newly announced gadget already reveals it allows for six degrees of movement freedom without any external sensors save for maybe the ones in the smartphone attached to it, suggesting it'll be relatively intuitive to use.

As is the case with the company's other offerings such as the Cube AR toy, the 6DoF Blaster is just a hardware part of a larger equation focused on creating immersive entertainment experiences, and Merge will be relying on third-party developers to come up with the majority of applications for its latest product. Developer kits will begin shipping over the current quarter but their prices have yet to be determined. Besides games, the firm is also expecting other manufacturers to come up with additional peripherals that can be used alongside the 6DoF Blaster. More similar AR-powered gadgets may be unveiled at the next iteration of CES which is officially starting on Tuesday.

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