I knew my DC27 badge was going to have an augmented reality aspect to it before I even showed up to DC26. The shape and function of the badge has changed about 10 times since then.
It is still early but let's talk about what this badge is and what it will do.
1. There will be an AR game playable on iOS and Android that will utilize the space within and around Defcon 27.
2. You will need the badge to win the game but not to experience the world built into this app.
3. The badge, while having electronic parts, will be static unless you win the game or add a shitty add-on.
4. The game and badge are being developed side by side.
Now let's talk about where this started so you can see how I got to where I'm at right now.
1. The original design was going to be based on an IR camera system, MPU, and 4" transparent OLED screen. The original cost to manufacture was close to $200/each.
2. Realizing that the screen, camera, and game features could be run on a normal phone, the badge became more about the artwork being read by the phones camera.
3. Originally I wanted to use LEDs on the badge to change the avatar of the player. This actually worked but not reliably enough to build an entire app and badge around. (see video below)
4. Since the LED system is unreliable, the badge artwork is now crucial to the function within the game, I've had to strip anything from the design that could interfere with the app. This means all electronics will appear on the back, the front will be all art.
So, that's where we are at design wise. Now let's talk about the factors keeping this from happening.
1. I am using a third party image recognition software for this app to save time. I foresee three possible scenarios:
A. I develop my own image recognition software (least likely).
B. I do a kickstarter to pay the licensing fees upfront. (most likely).
C. The game ships with a big ol' fat "Vuforia" watermark. (50/50)
2. The size. I have a functioning demo of this app that can recognize my badge and other images. This doesn't include ANY of the interactive elements needed to finish the game and the current demo size is 6.6gb on iOS. O_O
3. The App store. I've never put anything on an app store but I am prepared for whatever I submit to be rejected. (that's the only thing that would make sense after a successful kickstarter and licensing rights are aquired).
1. If no money is acquired up front then the bare bones distribution would be to download the app and install it yourself. This would kill the entire game for me. I wouldn't expect a bunch of security experts to take the time to install an app from an unknown developer at Defcon. It seems if it's not in an app store than everything else becomes an uphill battle.
2. I scrap the game. This is the last thing I want to do because I am developing these together but there are 3 big hurdles to get the game out (licensing, app store, size). I have more control over the aspects of the badge than the game, so it could possibly just be sold with different attachments.
3. Time and research. I scale down the size and scope of the game to get it small enough to get onto peoples phones, I make sure I double check all the app store requirements, and pay out of pocket for the licensing fees.
I think the approach will probably be close to solution 3, which I realize isn't ideal but more practical.
Where am I at now?
Well I have a demo version of the app and a prototype of the badge. Current issues include:
1. Badge size. It's going to need to be 30% bigger and have more simplified activation images in order for cell phone cameras to work properly.
2. Glare. Right now direct light reflections are inhibiting the apps ability to recognize the image when it catches glare. Possible solutions are going with a matte finish (the image is going to need to be inverse anyways) or painting "Black 2.0" on areas where light shouldn't reflect (see in the photos).
So that's it. I'll have prototype 2 and the game elements of the app done hopefully by the end of the month (March, 2019).
Going forward I hope to get images of other badges ahead of time so they can be programmed in also. It might not work depending on the face of the badge but I'd like to try.