Oh, you wacky scientists. What are you up to now?
Well, Informatics research scientists at the University of California, Irvine have built an Outrun arcade cabinet that can be driven on the road. For real.
Seriously, check out the video. Designed to look like an old Outrun cabinet, Garnet Hertz and his team built an electric car with a video screen where the windshield should be. Cameras on the front of the vehicle interpret the road ahead and translate it into a display that resembles Sega’s popular ‘80s arcade game.
So, instead of watching the road, you’re playing a video game that’s a digital interpretation of the road in front of you. Crashing in the original Outrun was hilarious and fun. Doing so in this thing? Not so much.
So, what’s the point of this augmented reality road vehicle? Walt Scacchi, research director for the Center for Computer Games and Virtual Worlds at UC Irvine, explains it thusly:
“One of the things that’s starting to arise from [this project] is whole new ways of thinking about how game-based virtual worlds can be embodied into physical devices in order to create new experiences. One of the things that may come from the Outrun project are new ways of associating say, game-based therapies for people who might be limited to electric-chair assisted mobility. So, like kids who have limited ability, quadriplegic or what have you, may be able to take advantage of some of this technology if we can get it embodied in, rather than the form of an arcade machine, also in the form of a powered wheelchair.”
-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Contributing Editor Andrew Eisen