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There’s something right about £5 App running a demo/game/fun event as the Xmas special. I mean, how does this sound: I turn up at The Werks, icy cold, to be handed a lovely hot mulled wine by the Ribots, directed towards the mince pies, and then entertained with a range of funky technology stuff. Mmm.

This evening there were talks and demos covering: collaborative interactive fiction (a.k.a., group-generated text adventure), namely Spaceship; Emily demoing robot sumo; mobile phone Lightsaber dueling (no, not with the iPhone); eye controlled Pong, from Ben Rubinstein. All excellent.

Maybe it’s because of the fun we had the previous day at the Flash Big Screen Bonanza, or perhaps it’s because I’d been noodling with JavaFX, but I found Seb’s Flash 3D and augmented reality demos great fun.

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I’d say, of the evening, the biggest wow! was when Seb showed us the augmented reality stuff; and the biggest round of applause of the night was when he said “hey, all I’ve done is download it and compile it” :-)

But you don’t even need to do that. From that last link, if you print out the PDF symbol, click the start button (and right click and select “USB camera” in settings, but you may not have to do that), and hold up the symbol you can try it yourself. It’s not bad, eh?

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The underlying tech seems to be from the C ARToolKit, which is available under the GPL and other licenses. Given that the documentation touches on support for SGI/Irix and VRML I think it must have a pretty robust history.

There’s some mention of a Java bindings for it, but after a bit of digging it turns out there’s a pure Java 6 port, and from what I can understand a version from the same author for the Android platform. I’ve not tried them; I’ve no idea if they work.

If you’re interested in this area, there’s documentation on how ARToolKit works.