Watch Robot Spiders Attack in Vortex Ball, an AR Tech Showcase From Sturfee

by Ryan Winterhalter • August 10th, 2017

Going to the bank is hell. You wait in line, the tellers try to upsell you, and the giant mechanical spiders won’t stop skittering out of their inter-dimensional portal. The citizens of Northern California seem unaware their home is under attack in a new video showcasing the AR game Vortex-Ball by Sturfee.

Unlike other demos we’ve highlighted lately, Vortex Ball doesn’t use Apple’s new ARKit SDK. Rather, Sturfee uses their proprietary technology designed for outdoor augmented reality. According to spokesman Matthew Lee, the weakness of ARKit is that it “cannot identify walls and doesn’t do scene recognition.” Lee continued, “…you can’t react to the scene, whereas Sturfee’s tech recognizes all the roads, the buildings, the edges in real time…so you see the spiders climbing and changing their orientation relative to the objects in the scene.”

The Sturfee tech is designed to handle outdoor environments in a way competitors cannot. This is advantageous in a world where the biggest AR release to date is a location-based outdoor experience like Pokemon GO. According to CEO Anil Cheriyadat, “Detecting 3D geometry accurately from [the] outdoor world is key for location-based AR experience. By measuring and recognizing 3D geometry of the local space, applications can place digital information at specific spots inside the space or enable digital objects to interact with real space.”

Cheriyadat continued describing the differences between Sturfee’s tech and other AR solutions: “Tango and ARkit build local 3D geometry in a piecemeal fashion, often by detecting patches of 3D planes, requiring the user to move around the local space. In addition, these solutions only detect 3D geometry up to a limited depth range, limiting the applications. In contrast, imagine holding your phone camera up and instantly seeing spiders climbing up the building walls, aliens blowing up buildings, or characters trying to hide behind the trees.”

Vortex-Ball is available now on iOS and Android. We tried the game out for ourselves, but the app informed us that no AR functionality was available at our location. You can check out two more spidery demos below.

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