Massive fights across sprawling VR battlefields, no backpack or cables required.
When kids in the ‘80s conceptualized “the future” it doubtlessly contained opportunities to run around futuristic gridlines with laser guns in an augmented reality space free of wires or restraints. Flash forward to 2019 and LAVR Tag, a VR version of laser tag just released by MANUVR Entertainment using the Oculus Quest, is giving those ‘80s kids—now adults—a chance to finally live out their dream.
Sure, the concept of VR laser tag isn’t new; Zero Latency has been prominent among numerous companies that have been coming out with laser tag games in VR Spaces. Yet most games have been limited to 6 players, while LAVR tag supports a complex battle between an impressive 100 players. AI characters are also available to supplement the number of humans you’re playing with.
More significantly, and in line with that Blade Runner-esque fantasy of being fully immersed in the experience and untethered by any pesky reminders that you’re using technology, LAVR Tag is operated using Oculus Quest standalone VR headsets–no backpack or wires required. With arenas being created that incorporate space to physically roam in the many laser tag landscapes and scenarios available, players are able to experience one game across many venues, meeting in the virtual middle.
The shiny new technology that makes all of this possible is Azure Spacial Anchors through Microsoft, which help create mixed reality applications for accurate spatial mapping of points of interest. This allows venues offering LAVR Tag to choose whether they want to create mixed reality spaces with touchpoints in the physical world or virtual spaces entirely detached from reality. The anchors allow for locational precision never-before-seen in similar concept games, according to MANUVR co-founder Derek Bolton.
“It’s not as simple as mapping a facility, putting it on the headset, getting a Quest, and having Azure’s anchors,” Bolton explained in an interview with Android Central. “The proprietary method does come from the device that Sean [Ong] uses [Mixed Reality Pro and Hololens from Ong Innovations, an umbrella company over MAVUR], as well as a few other things like postering and QR codes. So, it’s much different than having to set up 300 cameras.”
“To be honest it actually supports even way more than 100 players though we don’t recommend that for a single arena,” said Sean Ong, co-founder of MANUVR Entertainment, during an interview with VRScout. “But yeah it’s highly scalable. There’s voice over IP, there’s multi arena support. We could switch dynamically between a local server and a cloud server. So yeah the scalability potential is fairly immense.”
Bolton’s vision has endless potential beyond what some already see as a stellar application of this kind of mobility and flexibility within both virtual and mixed reality spaces. He pointed out in an interview that while LAVR Tag is the first use of this technology, he could foresee uses in FBI training, real estate, or industrial markets.
“He’s [Sean Ong] changing the world with this,” said Bolton while speaking to VRScout. “This can go to police academy training. This could go to helping FBI agents and criminal investigators. I mean just it’s truly remarkable. You know The VOID and Zero Latency, they require so much stuff that you have to wear and that you have to do, and this has nothing.”
“He did this without the Oculus,” Bolton continued. “We are actually featuring the Oculus because we truly believe it’s the best headset that’s ever been made and it even saved us effort and time because of how good it is. I mean, he came up with this, like, almost two years ago. So he had this technology already figured out; how to do it even with the other headsets.”
As is, the locational accuracy that allows for such effective mixed reality gaming is enough to impress many.
“The video I’ve seen of LAVR Tag in action is incredible. Watching it is one of those moments that feels like science fiction coming to life. It’s almost like a Holodeck from Star Trek,” wrote Sean Endicott of Android Central about the experience after watching a match from the outside.
Feature Image Credit: MANUVR Entertainment