This week we went out to see a UK company called Scape.
The London-based startup is doing some pretty interesting things in the AR space. They have their own software development kit, the Scape SDK which goes about things in a bit of a different way to Google’s ARCore and Apple’s ARKit.
Basically those platforms use GPS information to find where you are in the world whereas Scape accesses a massive database of visual cues. The company spent a year or so travelling to different cities around the world and essentially mapping them out again in digital form using videos. So they ave a sort of library of reference points across various cities in the world that your phone’s camera can identify and use to work out where it is.
Scape says this is a much more accurate, flexible and dependable way of creating geo-located AR content. Today the company is bringing its SDK out of beta so that developers can start getting to grips with it.
MMOs For AR
I played a pretty interesting multiplayer AR shooter game using the tech called Holoscape and it does look like it’s on to something. It was a little rough around the edges but had some really amazing features. Each player has their own drone that follows them around and you could place down turrets and shields that others could see.
What followed was essentially an AR game of laser tag played out in the middle of a London street. In one game type myself and two other players worked together to defend a beacon. You needed to strategically assign areas you’d each cover and lend assistance with power-ups at your friend’s request.
It wasn’t entirely perfect – there were a few jumps in location and there’s no occlusion support or anything like that. But it was impressive how reliable and tight Scape’s tech seems to be. The company has ambitions to grow this out as a multiplayer AR game that spans the globe, like a more action-packed version of Pokemon Go.
Obviously it doesn’t cover as much ground as Google or Apple can but the areas Scape does have are richly littered with information. Really, though, the smartphone is just a testing ground for what the company wants to work towards. Scape obviously sees its work applying to incoming AR headsets but also other areas like self-driving cars.
Today Scape is also launching a tester app called Pixscape. You can get it on both iOS and Android, It will probably be a while before we’re all using Scape-built apps but this was a promising first look.