Augmented Reality is a pretty hot topic currently, but it seems to me that the Japanese in particular have really embraced the concept of mixing the real world with computer-generated imagery and data. One case in point is the Crimsonfox project [JP], an “Alternative Reality” scavenger hunt game event that took place over the weekend in Tokyo, Japan.
The main idea here was to use a tailor-made augmented reality app on the iPhone (which is only available in the Japanese App Store) in a mass-player game in the real world, namely the central district of Shibuya.
And over 200 players showed up in flesh and blood on the day of the event, all equipped with iPhones. Using said app, GPS and the built-in compass of the 3GS, players ran around in the city looking for hidden (physical) hints to find the real-world hideout of a “secret society called Moonlights”.
On the screenshot below, you can see those hints in red and an interim goal in blue.
Players were able to “scan” hints they found with their iPhones, for example a graphic printed on a piece of paper somewhere. The app would then verify the hint by superimposing an emblem (see below) over the image on the iPhone camera, give away points for finding the right hint and then lead players to the next part of the game.
Very cool concept, so it wasn’t too surprising that the Crimsonfox project was watched by a total of 7,000 people live online. Tokyo-based Ubiquitous Entertainment, the main organizer of the event, was even able to win the support of Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
While this is probably possible in Japan only, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this kind of event copied for marketing or other purposes outside this country in the future (hit this link for more information on the game in English).
Here’s the official Crimsonfox promo trailer: