Sony made a virtual air hockey table showing the future of augmented reality

Sony was the SXSW, the annual tech and entertainment meet-up, this week and this was another opportunity for the Japanese tech giant’s engineers and artists to collaborate on experimental projects.These projects are meant to emphasize how Sony’s display technology, particularly its advancements in image sensors and projectors, can be stretched and morphed into hardware and software that goes far beyond a standard image on a flat screen.Image result for Sony virtual air hockeyOne such project was a three-way augmented reality air hockey game Sony developed specifically for the Wow Factory this year. The game features a physical hockey puck and three physical paddles around custom circular table. But the table is also making use of two of Sony’s new IMX382 visual sensors, which can detect and track objects at 1,000 frames per second. One sensor sits above the table to track the puck, and another sits below to track players’ paddles. An overhead projector meanwhile overlays the game interface and virtual pucks onto the surface of the table.Image result for Sony virtual air hockeySony’s software allows the real hockey puck to interact with the virtual ones because the image sensors track both your hand and the paddle as you interact with the objects on the table. So you can hit the virtual pucks with your paddle as if they real, and the virtual ones even bounce off of the real puck and the sides of the table in realistic fashion.

While it’s not ever going to be a commercial product, Sony has shown time and again that its display and sensor tech can achieve a novel form of AR. Sony’s showcase here at SXSW illustrates how AR can be achieved through alternative means, if you’re wiling to expand how you think about the term and what it requires to realistic function.