When people ask me what the coolest thing I experienced at the Augmented World Expo (AWE) in Santa Clara, California, this week, I don't hesitate to answer: a vision of my own doom at the hands of a ghost who wanted to put a stop to me eating all those pellets.
This waking nightmare comes courtesy of Epson's Moverio BT-200 smart glasses and AR-Man, a virtual reality game by Imaginary Computer that may give you flashbacks to 1980s arcade mainstay Pac-Man.
As in Pac-Man, you move around a maze, gobbling up pellets as you go while a group of ghosts give chase. But unlike in Pac-Man, which gives you a top-down view of the maze so that you can plan out strategies and escape routes, AR-Man puts you in the maze itself, with danger lurking around every corner.
What makes AR-Man such a thrill is that there's no input device for controlling the game. You are the input device. Sean McCracken of Imaginary Games designed it so that your physical movements in the real world are mirrored in a virtual one. That doesn't mean you'll need an expansive space in order to play a game of AR-Man; running in place will propel you through the virtual maze and away from those ever-approaching ghosts.
And so there I was on the AWE show floor, running in place with a headset on my head as I tried to stay away from ghosts only I could see. I undoubtedly looked ridiculous — I know what I look like running — but I was playing a game, moving around and without a care in the world.
Well, except for those ghosts.
AR-Man is expected to arrive on Moverio's Apps Market next week.