The arcade is ever evolving as it seeks to find a new audience and adjusts to the new status quo for on-location entertainment. Regular readers of VRFocus will be aware that news relating to virtual reality (VR) arcades and digital out-of-home entertainment (DOE) is pretty regular. Be it new locations, expansions, adaptions to existing venues, or new experiences from small to room-scale, location-based experiences.
As we’ve seen through items like our ongoing semi-regular feature series The Virtual Arena*, there’s plenty of direct interest in immersive technology within the amusement and arcade sector. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that some arcade staples have been brought up to date with new tricks and features offered by the advance in technology.
One such amusement stalwart getting a facelift is the humble air hockey table. For decades a traditional battlefield as parent takes on child in an effort to slam a hard plastic puck hard enough to get it into a hole without it flying up and hitting someone full in the face.
Sony Square NYC is welcoming a new version of air hockey to its line-up which uses a form of augmented reality (AR) to take the game into mixed reality (MR) territory. Dubbed, appropriately enough, A(i)R Hockey, it sees the traditional table replaced by a circular one and the number of players increased to three. The twist really comes when the game starts. Not only is there the physical puck, hit with the familiar mallet as usual but virtual pucks of different sizes start whizzing around the table as well which you will need to defend against with the mallet. The game tracking how each reacts to your strikes and players having to track both physical and virtual objects at the same time. There’s even haptics imbedded in the mallet so you can feel the hit of the virtual pucks.
“Our goal at Sony Square NYC is to showcase the very best of what Sony has to offer and to help connect people with the brand in new ways,” said Steven Fuld, Senior Vice President of Corporate Marketing at Sony Corporation of America. “The A(i)R Hockey game is a great way to demonstrate some of Sony’s cutting-edge innovations and technologies, while at the same time providing fun for the whole family.”
The title, developed by WOW Studio, was first shown at SXSW 2018 and uses high-speed vision sensors capable of tracking objects at 1000 frames per second. It’ll be at Sony Square NYC for the next month until May 27th, 2018. Sony themselves recorded some footage for their Sony – Stories channel on YouTube which also shows off some of the other tricks the table has. You can see that below. Sadly for air hockey aficionados, there is no information as to whether A(i)R Hockey will see a roll-out beyond appearing at events at this time.
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*Incidentally, there is a two-part The Virtual Arena reporting on the 2018 Asia Amusement & Attractions Expo and discussing exactly this beginning this coming Friday.