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At least, he thinks he does. Kids playing this game use a web cam, through which the AR engine can see and recognise what is happening to the image on the back of the cereal box, checking for distortion and changes in colour and light that help it judge what the user is doing and progress the game accordingly. Boffswana estimates this is the first AR project to use the the Unity 3D engine in this way.
The brief, their latest project for Saatchi and Saatchi NY and their client General Mills' Honey Nut Cheerios, was to create an Augmented Reality experience that places the product at the centre of the action. “It was vital that the physical world becomes part of the game. Our aim was, and always is, to show that AR can be implemented with a reason for being included and has applications beyond gimmicks and party tricks,” said Executive Producer Robert Stock.
Employing the augmented reality working inside the engine, they extracted the raw mathematical data, or pose estimation data, and cleaned it up to isolate only the values they needed, the rotation values. Two types of smoothing algorithms combined to get a good trade off between AR accuracy and correcting errors in the data, while the rotational data for steering Buzz the bumble bee runs through a separate pipeline to keep lag low for control.
Game developer Leigh Mannes explained that they favoured the Unity 3D engine because of its 3D quality and its graphics, modelling and preview pipeline. They created the game with Autodesk studio max and MAXON Cinema 4D. “In most ways the game is pretty straightforward. We did not want the kids to struggle to learn how to use it so we kept the symbology very intuitive and similar to conventional game symbols.
“Late in the project we added a shadow under Buzz, which gave the user hints about Buzz’s position, important because the camera could be pointing at the scene from any angle, and made the game easier to play. An interactive tutorial at the start of the game demonstrates correct positioning of the box and the steering mechanism, dictates the layout of the game and the way the fight is handled with obstacle avoidance to defeat the villain.
The game itself took about three months to develop but getting the Augmented Reality to work inside the engin, within a web browser is their own R&D effort which they are working on alongside Unity 3D. You can watch a similar system they have built to track head movements detected through a web cam on Boffswana’s website. www.boffswana.com/honeydefender