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Occipital Aims to Show Its 3-D Scanner Is Good for Gaming, Too

A demo game shows how its Kinect-like Structure Sensor can be used for virtual and augmented reality.


Customers have already found a lot of business uses for Occipital’s 3-D-scanning Structure Sensor, but the device’s makers want people to know it can also be used for just plain fun.

For those unfamiliar, Structure Sensor is a $350 depth-sensing camera similar to Microsoft’s Kinect, but portable, plugging into an iPad.

On Friday, Occipital is releasing a demo game that shows how the depth-sensing camera can be used for the kind of virtual reality typically reserved for headsets. The game uses a new feature called “unbounded positional tracking.” In English, that means that the tablet can not only tell when it is being tilted or turned, but also when the person holding it is walking forward or backward or even bending down.

The demo game — S.T.A.R. Ops — is available in the App Store, but the real point is to get other game makers to take advantage of unbounded positional tracking. The game doesn’t use the full details of the room, but scans it to tell where someone is located.

Eventually, CEO Jeff Powers says the unit should be capable of augmented reality and full environmental mapping. “This is kind of like a step along the way,” Powers said.

Occipital isn’t saying how many Structure Scanner devices it has sold, but Powers acknowledged the device is not yet a mass-market product.

“We still have, generally, an early-adopter device,” he said. “It’s ready for early adopters. It’s ready for professionals. We’re still working to make it ready for consumers. We’re getting there quickly.”

Meanwhile, depth-sensing cameras are starting to make their way onto other devices. Dell has Intel’s camera on one of its Venue tablets, while Google’s Project Tango is due to show up on an LG tablet later this year.

The big unknown is Apple, which bought depth-sensor maker PrimeSense but has yet to add depth-sensing abilities to any of its products.

Here’s a trailer for S.T.A.R Ops:

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