Earlier this year at WWDC, Apple showed off an augmented reality demo that used an iPad to recreate the famous Dejarik holochess game from Star Wars. It turns out that was more than just a tech demo: today Disney announced that it is creating an actual augmented reality platform that it will use to bring that game and other projects to life.
The product uses two pieces to work its magic. The first is a new augmented reality headset, made in conjunction with Lenovo. The device then pairs with a user’s smartphone to do the rest of the heavy lifting. A number of different applications were teased, including the holochess game — which put the animated, holographic monsters on top of a table or other surface — as well as a battle where tiny augmented reality Rebel cartoon characters faced off against an AT-AT.
The different applications all fall under the brand name Jedi Challenges, and of course that name brings one particular use to mind: lightsabers. While no specifics about the lightsaber experience were detailed, it’s easy to imagine an AR game that will let customers strap on the Disney and Lenovo headset — much like Luke Skywalker did in the original film — and use an AR lightsaber to fight off bolts from a training remote.
There’s no release date yet for the product — further details were promised in the months ahead — but Disney clearly felt confident enough about the project’s potential to showcase it during D23. The question remains whether customers will actually be interested in strapped a headset to their face to play games in this fashion, or if the allure of augmented reality will appeal to audiences at all. Then again, the exact same arguments could have been made about something like Pokémon Go. The lesson with that game was that people are eager to engage with characters and properties they’re passionate about, even if it breaks traditional rules of gaming. And when it comes to fans, it’s hard to imagine any more…