FEATURE: Transparent & Augmented Mobile Displays – What’s in it for gamers?


Photo Credit: William Hook via Compfight cc

After a long wait, Apple was finally awarded the patent to create a transparent display for mobile devices. Determined to keep its top position in the industry, the mobile giant has been openly discussing their plans to enhance their line of products by applying new and advanced technologies that “haven’t been rumoured about yet” according to CEO Tim Cook.

Under the title US Patent No. 8,890,771 – Transparent Electronic Device, Apple discussed technology that will have an opaque display made of layers of screens that can render 3D images overlaying a real-world view. They also noted that there would be a usage of a “black mask” that covers the hardware behind the device to make it look see-through.

Although revolutionary, Apple is not the first to reveal a see-through device. Back in 2009, Samsung presented a small see-through display at the CES event that augments HD images, but the Korean company didn’t follow through with the idea and never launched the prototype.

Watch Samsung’s video presentation at the CES 2009:

But, how does a transparent, AR mobile display really change the way we consume our favorite hardcore or casual games?

Augmented reality gaming world
Currently, augmented technology in gaming has been around for a while, but not widely used in the market for many reasons. Firstly, not all mobile devices are able to handle AR apps and its feature requirements. Often, it’s the premium handsets like the iPhone 6 that can handle the system demands of AR games, where it requires powerful processing and graphic power, a clear HD camera, and, of course, a sizeable high quality display. Secondly, it’s extremely costly. The devices that are able to run AR apps are those in between the mid- to high-range smartphones, while the quality augmented reality apps are often a little pricey, too or will require you to eventually pay for a premium upgrade to enjoy the game to the fullest.

If Apple follows through on this see-through iPhone, we are certain that some AR applications will follow. An example will be the first augmented reality Star Wars game, the Star Wars Arcade: Falcon Gunner. Here are other apps which would work perfectly with the transparent display:
• Ingress for iOS by Niantic Labs
• PulzAR puzzle games
• Sky Seige
• AR Soccer
• ARDefender

For gamers, a see-through AR smartphone will create a more seamless gaming experience so long as the gameplay maximises the transparent screen and the augmented technology. Since the display will be completely touch screen, Apple needs to concentrate on making the touch controls more accurate and we believe the inclusion of the new force touch technology will be a great addition to this device. There is also a need to encourage game developers to produce AR-focused apps made specifically for a see-through screen. Without a doubt, if this gadget does get a launch, then we can be certain that mobile devices will surpass the console eventually in the gaming industry as the top gaming tech.

Why didn’t it arrive on the iPhone 6s?
Were you disappointed that the iPhone 6s was not as see-through as you expected? Although Apple may have acquired the full patent to produce a full AR-capable and transparent display, it might take them another year or more to produce it in a device. Despite that the new iPhone did not come out with a see-through screen, O2 said that the 6s and its 6s Plus comes with a sturdier Retina display with 3D multi-touch force technology that recognises certain commands based on the length and pressure in which a user touches the screen. This will bring in great changes with the way game developers build their game controls, and we hope to see developments in the coming months.

The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus may not come with the transparent display, but its larger and smarter screen accompanied with powerful hardware will still able to run all high definition AR games smoothly and seamlessly.

As per gamers, this patent is something to look forward to (if it comes true), as it will be the first of its kind on a mobile device and will greatly make changes on the way games are produced in the future. However, knowing Apple, this might not come at a reasonable price and may not arrive anytime soon, either. What do you think of the transparent display on smartphones? What titles would you love to see on an AR see-through screen?

GS Blogger: SheGamer

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