#IFA2017 – Lenovo and Disney have announced Star Wars: Jedi Challenges, a new augmented reality (AR) game experience produced by Disney and powered by Lenovo’s hardware. The hardware consists of the Lenovo Mirage AR headset, Lightsaber Controller, and Tracking Beacon. It is affordable and costs $199, and opens the potential of having more (Disney) games using the same system in the future.

Although the game can entertain audiences of “all ages,” kids will find it particularly cool in my opinion. The game features lightsaber battles in which you have to block and strike attacks from Kylo Ren or Darth Vader.

There are battles in which the player has to use strategies and tactic to use X-Wing fighters against AT-AT and battle droids. Finally, there’s a very cool, fully-playable, holochess. That latter might be the most logical use of AR in the Star Wars universe.

To make this happen at an affordable price is not easy at all, and it seems like Lenovo was the ideal partner for Disney. There are three components required for this to work. First, the tracking beacon is needed to serve as a general frame of reference for the AR app. Secondly, the light saber acts as a pointer and controller (it has two buttons). The lightsaber is built after Luke Skywalker’s and looks like a typical replica when not in use.

The Lenovo Mirage AR headset is the most complex piece. It has two wide angle cameras that track the light saber and/or the beacon. The headset also has a rotational motion sensor to tell the game how the player head is oriented. Note that the headset will require a phone, which is not provided. It is compatible with many Android and iOS phones, and Lenovo will probably have a list of popular compatible handsets.

The result is surprisingly good for a $199 package. Of course, the graphics are powered by a mobile device and it won’t rival a desktop AR or VR experience, but the game itself is fun and easy to play. Of course, the Star Wars universe just makes things even better. There are the typical AR technical challenges such as field of view and tracking accuracy, but the game programmers can tune things to make it fun anyway. Hopefully, there will be a chance to try it at retail stores since Best Buy is an official partner. It’s worth a look.

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