Sometime last week, Abhishek Singh, a 28-year-old NYU ITP (Interactive Telecommunications Program) graduate, donned a Super Mario costume and played the first level of the game at Central Park, NYC, while joggers and onlookers make confused glances at him.
In a giant leap for Super Mario fans, Singh, also a cofounder of a live streaming startup, is awing the internet with a real-world augmented reality (AR) demo of Super Mario Bros. The video, shot directly from his Microsoft Hololens headset, without any post-production, had over 6,00,000 views at the time of writing this article. His demo has been covered by Time, Techcrunch, and dozens of other publications across the world.
Abhishek Singh, a 28-year-old NYU ITP graduate, donned a Super Mario costume and played the first level of the game at Central Park, NYC, while joggers and onlookers make confused glances at him
The idea of the game came to Singh while he was tinkering with the Microsoft HoloLens development kit. “I decided I wanted to create some sort of outdoor running experience,” he said in an email to FactorDaily. “While learning the basics of Hololens development, I literally placed a cube in a scene and for some reason jumped right under it and that’s when the idea of recreating Mario struck me. I grew up playing Mario and it was as if it all the memories came rushing back,” he said.
The demo was a one-man pet project, and took a month to create on Unity, a game engine that supports multiple platforms, including Microsoft Hololens. “The most time was probably spent on tweaking the game to work in a large outdoor setting, something the Hololens is not necessarily designed for,” said Singh. “I also had to model all the assets and elements of the game and rethink the experience from a real world 3D perspective,” he added.
“While learning the basics of Hololens development, I literally placed a cube in a scene and for some reason jumped right under it and that’s when the idea of recreating Mario struck me. I grew up playing Mario and it was as if it all the memories came rushing back” — Singh
Singh said that the game has a few quirks, but is definitely playable, with the level size working out to 110 metres in the real world. Unlike the 2D game, you can step sideways to evade Goombas (in-game enemies) on your way to the castle. However, it’s highly unlikely that he’s about to offer the demo for download to other Hololens users, as it is Nintendo’s intellectual property.
The Hololens is an augmented reality hardware device that lets one interact with holograms in the real world. It retails at a starting price of $3000, and is currently available in a handful of countries, including the US, the UK, China, Australia, and Canada. It is not available in India yet.
Singh, 28, is currently doing a one year residency at NYU ITP, and is the cofounder of a 360˚ AR live streaming startup called Svrround. The startup operates on a SaaS model, and helps enterprises create and distribute live augmented 360 experiences through the platform, or their own channels.
Singh’s maker projects have charmed the internet previously — in 2016, he recreated the experience of flying a dragon by pulling on its reins in virtual reality (VR) using a 20-feet dragon-shaped prosthetic
Singh’s maker projects have charmed the internet previously — in 2016, he recreated the experience of flying a dragon by pulling on its reins in virtual reality (VR) using a 20-feet dragon-shaped prosthetic. Other notable projects, catalogued on his personal website, include Peeqo — a personal desktop robotic assistant, and Luments, a pair of smart shoes that can be controlled and customised via an app.
“My bets are on AR; it requires less effort on the part of the user,” he said, when asked to weigh in on the AR vs VR debate. Nintendo’s 2016 AR hit, Pokémon GO, netted over $1 billion in revenue worldwide, app analytics platform Sensor Tower reported earlier this year.
“My bets are on AR; it requires less effort on the part of the user” — Singh
“The internet is your friend, there’s enough information out there to get you started on anything,” He said, when asked for tips and resources for budding makers out there. “Don’t get overwhelmed by learning; learning enough to start building something you think is cool or enjoy and learn the rest along the way,” he added.
AR is expected to get more ubiquitous as a mode of interaction, with Apple’s launch of the ARkit at WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) earlier this month. Apple developers are hacking together a bunch of cool demos, from virtual BB-8 droids, to virtual rulers.
Subscribe to FactorDaily
Our daily brief keeps thousands of readers ahead of the curve. More signals, less noise.
Lead visual: Angela Anthony Pereira Updated at 1.45pm on June 27, 2017, to change the lead visual. Updated at 2:44pm to correct a typo. Disclosure: FactorDaily is owned by SourceCode Media, which counts Accel Partners, Blume Ventures and Vijay Shekhar Sharma among its investors. Accel Partners is an early investor in Flipkart. Vijay Shekhar Sharma is the founder of Paytm. None of FactorDaily’s investors have any influence on its reporting about India’s technology and startup ecosystem.