Being completely honest, the idea behind what augmented reality (AR) can possibly achieve is all well and good but at this moment in time it just doesn’t have the same wow factor that virtual reality (VR) does. Yet there are developers getting to grips with software like ARKit and ARCore, producing some interesting projects that have caught VRFocus’ eye. A recent one that came to our attention was TendAR, a videogame/app from Tendar Claws.
Tendar Claws has already made a name for itself in the VR world with the suitably wacky – and extremely fun Virtual Virtual Reality – and now turned that same inventive process towards AR with an app that feeds on your emotions (not in a scary way).
Kind of mixing the Tamagotchi idea of looking after a pet, whilst examining our modern relationship with technology, TendAR is about teaching a virtual guppy (a fish) to live in the real world by feeding on emotions you provide it. Like any animal your guppy needs a well-balanced diet that’s rich in different emotions, so this invariably means pulling all sorts of faces at the phones camera. TendAR will ask for a sad face or a happy expression for example which sounds easy enough, yet trying to pull an unhappy expression when you’re trying not to giggle is a lot tougher than it looks.
Adding to this is the fact that TendAR is a two player experience, so you both hold the phone at either end to begin with. After going through several options the screen splits allowing both players to see their faces and cooperate on pulling expressions to feed the guppy. The app can also be used to scan the area for faces and pick up on their facial expressions as well.
The short demo during the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) 2018 was certainly one of the more inventive use cases of AR that VRFocus has come across. The facial recognition technology definitely seemed to work on point for most of the experience (apart from sad face), even managing to capture those around the show floor who were several feet away. How well this might be perceived somewhere more public is another matter.
Due to the length of time and the actual build on display VRFocus didn’t see much in the way of the long form interactive storytelling aspect Tender Claws has touted TendAR will have – an important aspect to keep users playing – but the main gameplay aspect was enjoyable and light-hearted. Much in the same way the visuals have been designed, bright, bold, with an air of whimsy and energy.
If there’s one studio that can turn AR development on its head and create something unique, bizarre, and engaging then Tender Claws has to be near the top. TendAR is an intriguing concept and one that VRFocus looks forward to seeing in greater depth soon.