Minecraft gets real – sort of
So you have a virtual environment where people take things from the real world, and their imagination, and build them out of pixelated blocks. Minecraft servers are populated with Harbour Bridges, Opera Houses, Empire State Buildings and Starship Enterprises. What’s your next step? Apparently it’s to take the virtual objects and pop them back in the real world; sort of.
Minecraft Reality is a new app that uses augmented reality software to superimpose Minecraft creations on your camera’s vision of the real world. In that broad sense it’s like a lot of other augmented reality apps out there. The key difference lies in the fact that you can upload your own Minecraft creations and then place them for yourself, and others, to view.
The process of making an augmented reality creation is a little fiddly, on an iPhone screen at least. I found myself getting tired arms holding the phone in place for the required time while capturing the viewing angles and pressing buttons. On an iPad I think the whole thing would be easier. To be fair, the app’s creators are warning that its popularity means there’s a lot of load on the servers at the moment and I did find myself having to retry at several points in the process. The app’s underlying engine seems to do a great job with mapping 3D environments but the lack of a way to focus on a particular area is a bit frustrating. On my quick try the process worked best with a local field acting as the trigger – so the table made a good trigger because it was one obvious thing, the Harbour backdrop had too many possible objects in it and I couldn’t find a way to focus the app on just the bit I was interested in.
The results are good though, with the augmented reality popping up pretty quickly and at a nice, large-scale size. Once you have your creation up you can walk around it as if it was really there. There are a number of standard objects available to try the app out with or you can upload something you’ve made yourself.
For a couple of dollars kids will appreciate being able to see their Minecraft creations come to life, for a little while at least. If you are just interested in having a go at creating something with augmented reality I’d stick with the free Aurasma Lite app.
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