Wearable Technology  Tagged Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Wearable Technology  RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network Your Ability to Keep Calm Under Pressure Matters in Champions of the Shengha https://www.gameskinny.com/wo94m/your-ability-to-keep-calm-under-pressure-matters-in-champions-of-the-shengha https://www.gameskinny.com/wo94m/your-ability-to-keep-calm-under-pressure-matters-in-champions-of-the-shengha Wed, 21 Dec 2016 08:01:25 -0500 Kat De Shields

Button-mashing and raging won’t do you any good with this game. In order to dominate the battlefield, BfB Labs’ Champions of the Shengha requires players to control their emotional state.

In this tactical card battling game, players alternate between duels that incorporate card play and magic matches that measure your heart rate to see how chill you can stay under pressure. Launched on IndieGoGo earlier this year, the campaign successfully raised more than $82,000 to completely fund the project in November. The game is set to hit the market in April 2017. 

In addition to playing Champions of the Shengha, I had an opportunity to interview Simon Fox, Co-Founder and Design Director of BfB Labs, to learn more about the game. One of the first things you'll notice upon booting it up is the bright and colorful artwork that immediately sets the scene for epic spell battles in a fantasy land. 

A lot of our team are from Malaysia and the art of that part of the world has definitely been an influence on the art of the game. We've been asking ourselves the question - what if your breath and your emotions were magical powers?

The gameplay takes influences from many places. It's a colorful card dueling game and so it has its roots in that genre. It also uses data from your body as an input and to work with that we've been reading tons of research about heart rate dynamics and how they interact with the nervous system, with your breath and with external stressors. 

The game itself is an amalgamation of unique concepts and ideas, including scientific research, emotionally responsive gaming, and wearable technology. In order to play, you must put on a BFB sensor -- a Bluetooth monitor you clip onto your ear so the game can keep track of your heart rate in the heat of battle. Your heart literally becomes a controller. 

The larger piece is light enough to clip onto your collar. 

According to the campaign website:  

The Bluetooth ear-clip measures players’ Heart Rate Variability (HRV) - a psychophysiological marker of stress and anxiety. Through play, players learn to master the skill of raising their HRV through breathing and consciously exert control over the way they respond to stress.

Sounds cool, doesn't it?

It is. Especially when you get a chance to see it in action. 


Battles are similar to your standard tactical card games where you race to knock out your opponent's defense or hit points. Winning a battle unlocks new cards and allows you to level up.  There are four types of cards you can use to defeat your opponent:

  • Spells: Various attacks you can use against your opponent
  • Healing Cards: Medic! Heal yourself or your creatures
  • Creatures: These cards can used to attack or defend
  • Weapons/Armor: Buff your creature cards or yourself for additional defense or damage points

As you go through your turns, you'll need to use power to buy more cards to use in battle (or upgrade them). This is where the game expands into something extraordinary. 

In magic matches, power is gained through focused breathing and a controlled heart rate that determines how many points (power) you receive. The game prompts you to take deep, even breaths that slow your heart rate. Your progress is measured by a meter on the left side of the screen, and you gain the most power when you achieve a consistent state of calm.

Compared to the way you normally breathe, the effects of deep (or diaphragmatic) breathing are apparent and wonderfully relaxing. 

Alternating between battles and magic matches adds to the challenge, as the stressors of gameplay must be forfeited in order to focus and get the power you need to do well in the next round. Magic matches do get harder as you progress (who would have thought breathing could be so difficult?). As things get more intense, it’s even more important to be still and focus. 

It's not just the in-game stress that can get you, distractions and straying thoughts that take you out of the moment and rip your attention away from breathing can cause a lower power score, too. In the magic matches, I was never able to score higher than a 5, but BfB Labs' Research Manager, Naomi, gets a 10 all the time. For those looking to improve their breathing skills, there is a game mode in which you hop directly into a magic match to practice. 

You can also hop online to battle friends and strangers. According to Simon, the multiplayer feature truly brings the game to life. 

Competition amplifies the stress of the situation and so it makes it more crucial that you learn the skill at the core of our game - managing your response to stress. 

With all the mention of stress management, scientific research, and keeping calm, it's obvious that the game was created for more than just a fun experience. The impetus for the project was to help young people in Britain suffering from anxiety disorders. 

In addition to an in-house research team, BfB Labs conducted clinical trials with groups of players between the ages of 10-15 to help them better manage their emotional state. Their efforts have met resounding success -- so much so that the campaign featured options for backers to purchase sets of the game for schools. To date, trials demonstrated:

  • 84% of players were able to reliably raise their Heart Rate Variable (HRV) during focused breathing time, a state that correlates with lowered stress and anxiety
  • 3 out of 4 players reported getting better at staying focused within the game
  • 1 out of 4 players reported they had already started applying these focusing techniques outside of the game by the end of the trial

And, why isn't there a Nobel Peace Prize equivalent for games yet? 

Looking Forward

 Though Champions of the Shengha is a ground-breaking game in its own right, Simon and BfB Labs still have big plans leading up to and after release. 

In the full game, there will be three tribes that players can choose to join: Joy, Fear, and Fury. Gameplay is different for each tribe from the type of creatures you can use to attack style. There are even ideas on differentiating breathing techniques among the different tribes. It's something Simon and his team are in the process of researching.

At the moment the breathing technique is the same for each tribe of magic but we are looking at the heart rate dynamics produced by different breathing techniques from the realms of meditation and yoga, and we're exploring whether that's something we want to incorporate into the game. The biggest barrier is evidence base - we want to be sure that anything we're asking a user to do frequently is definitely going to help them and that means doing original research of our own.

Ultimately, Simon's vision for the game once complete is to continue to build upon its legacy of helping people learn better ways to cope with stress and have fun in the process. 

I want these characters and stories to communicate serious psychological education. We think of this as a multi-modal approach to creating impact in your health. On the one hand, we have physiological exercises which - if you regularly perform them - have an impact on your health. On the other hand, we have this cognitive component which is teaching you understand that and bring it into your life. These approaches working harmoniously in a product that feels effortless to use seems like something really cool to me. I think about our core audience - the younger players who can really benefit from learning these skills - and I want to build a narrative for them that feels exciting and compelling and brings these exercises and concepts to life. 

Apart from being a well-designed and fun tactical card battling game, Champions of the Shengha is an experience that lingers long after the application is shut down. In the midst of the escapism gamers love so much, BfB labs has created an experience that provides players with their own set of spells to conquer stress and anxiety. It allows players to become Champions of their own lives. 

For more information about the project, visit the BFB-Labs website. The game will be available on Android and iOS  devices. 

A copy of the game was provided to GameSkinny for this article. 

How the evolution of gaming has influenced the evolution of humanity https://www.gameskinny.com/7th5r/how-the-evolution-of-gaming-has-influenced-the-evolution-of-humanity https://www.gameskinny.com/7th5r/how-the-evolution-of-gaming-has-influenced-the-evolution-of-humanity Fri, 17 Jun 2016 16:01:00 -0400 Jenifyr Kaiser

 In 1602 Shakespeare wrote in his play Hamlet:

“What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals—and yet,
to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me.”

Hamlet is commenting on the nobility and beauty of man, but also about his inability to appreciate any of it. This is a key scene in Shakespeare’s play, but it is also a key element in the human condition. Our inability to be satisfied with ourselves, as individuals and as a species, drives us to evolve and grow.

Humans are not the same today as they were in 1602. We may not have grown flippers or extra fingers, but make no mistake, we have evolved and we will continue to do so. Technology has had a huge impact on our evolution in the last hundred years. Believe it or not video games have had a huge impact on technology, and by extension, human evolution.

Where we were

Games have been an integral part of the human experience since the invention of the first board game over 5000 years ago. Senet, pictures of which were found, painted on Egyptian tomb walls, dated back to pre-dynastic times (circa 3100 BC). The rules of the game remain a mystery, but it began a fascination with games that continues today. The evolution of those games is nothing less than astounding.

Over the centuries games have evolved from those simple roots. In 1904, Elizabeth Magie created a game called The Landlord’s Game. Thirty one years later, in 1935, Parker Brothers took this idea and evolved it into the game Monopoly. It took the country by storm. America's love affair with games had begun, and oh what a journey it would be.

The first instance of a video game designed for fun was Tennis for Two designed by William Higinbotham in 1958. It used an oscilloscope screen and cathode ray tubes to display a colored "ball" that could be bounced back and forth across a 2D "net" using controllers connected to the computer. It was designed for fun, but also to show the computing capabilities and the possibility of human interactions with computers. Little did he know how far this idea would go.

Where we are

Computers continued to evolve and change and video games changed right along with them. Micro processing technology was still in it's infancy in 1972 when the arcade game, Pong, was released. Over the next 44 years, games would continue to evolve right alongside humanity. From the first in-home gaming consoles like the Atari 2600 and ColecoVision, to the first personal computers, video games were becoming an integral part of human life.

So, what does any of this have to do with the evolution of humanity? Well, everything!

Oscar Wilde once said:

"Life imitates art far more than art imitates Life."

It's an old expression, but still holds true today. Games and entertainment, the art side of technology, have influenced every aspect of how we live. From how we communicate to how we view the world. Whether that is for better or worse I will leave to the historians, but ultimately we have changed, and that is undeniable. 

According to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the U.S computer and video game industry generated $23.5 billion in revenue for 2015. That makes this industry one of the fastest growing markets in the economic landscape today. That kind of boom creates thousands of jobs and affects the financial future of our country. It also reveals something about how we spend our disposable income. We have evolved beyond creatures who simply need to survive, into a species that can create and play in new and amazing ways.

Technology has changed the way we exist in fundamental ways. Access to the internet has given us a global intelligence. Virtually every human, in most major countries, all over the world has access to this network of intelligence via a tiny device that fits in a pocket. When I was a child, we had to go to the library and look up information in a book that was written months, even years before. How was that information kept accurate? The simple answer -- it wasn't, not by today's standards anyways. We have access to an inestimable amount of data as a species and it's all right at our fingertips.

The internet also allows us to play games with other people all over the globe. Imagine that, people sharing entertainment, laughing, communicating, enjoying life and doing it with people they may have never met. It is entirely possible for a Muslim, a Jew, and a Christian to be playing the same game at the same time. A gay person and a straight person might be duking it out in Call of Duty, all the while laughing and having fun and no actual blood being spilled.

Games are connecting us to one another in unprecedented ways. They give us more than just entertainment. They give us hope, joy, and a connection to the world. We are changing and evolving in ways few people take the time to notice. It really is quite amazing.

Where we are going

Video games and technology are advancing hand in hand into the future. In order to make bigger and better games, the computer industry has to make bigger and better processors. That is convenient since Moore's Law states that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years. That means that processors continue to get better and faster, year after year.

As technology advances, so does the innovations that affect our evolution as a species. Yes, while cell phones and tablets keep getting better we're much more capable of watching our silly cat videos on the go, but so much more is happening than that.

Prosthetics is a huge industry now and innovation happens constantly in that field. Through the surgical implantation of micro electronics in the brain an amputee can now move prosthetic limbs just by thinking about it. The advances in that field will, one day, change how we see ourselves as a species. Will we ever reach a point where humans with perfectly good limbs will choose to replace them with bionics because they make us stronger and faster? Only time will tell.

This is a theme much explored in the Deus Ex game series. The latest installment, Deus Ex: Human Revolution has inspired a renewed interest in the field, or perhaps a re-doubled interest would be more accurate. Despite the decidedly dystopian tone of the games, people are excited about the possibilities it may predict. After the release of one their gameplay trailers the developers began receiving inquiries from amputees asking to purchase the artificial limbs featured in the game. Sadly they don't make artificial limbs, just video games. 

One company -- Open Bionics is actually working with the game designers to design prosthetic limbs modeled after the one worn by the main character, Adam Jensen. It will eventually be available to anyone at a lower price point than any prosthetic device in history. The company claims they will make the design files open source, so anyone with a 3D printer will be able to make one. (Read more on this in our interview with Open Bionics.)


Virtual reality is another field inspired by gaming, but will advance us as a culture. The practical applications are staggering. Imagine being able to tour Pompeii they way it would have looked before the whole rivers of lava thing happened. We can do that with today's technology. Imagine the first manned mission to mars, being there in the spacecraft with the astronauts as they take off on that adventure. We might be able to see and experience these and many more things. There is a huge difference between reading about history and actually living it.  

Wearable technology like heads-up display glasses and smart watches are making technology more accessible and easier to integrate into our daily lives. Are we one step away from surgical implants that put the tech right into our bodies? Some experts think that is exactly what comes next. While this frightens many people and raises significant ethical questions, there is a group that call themselves "Transhumanists" that embrace this kind of future.

Love it or hate it, fear it or accept it, one thing is certain -- technology has changed our lives and video games have been a huge part of that evolution. Where we go from here is anyone's guess, but you can bet that technology and games will play a major part in our lives for many years to come.  

The Accessibility Gamification of VR https://www.gameskinny.com/w72rb/the-accessibility-gamification-of-vr https://www.gameskinny.com/w72rb/the-accessibility-gamification-of-vr Sun, 10 Apr 2016 10:40:12 -0400 Sagger Khraishi

Virtual reality devices have the option to allow everyone access to games, regardless of the disability. But most current devices aren't going down that path. The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive both require controllers in order to interact with the virtual space, and even Samsung Gear requires your hands to be next to the temple at all times to control the device.

This ableism can be seen with traditional controllers for consoles, requiring two hands to use properly. While there are groups like The Controller Project, who focus on making controllers for disabled people, VR shouldn't have this barrier to entry. Since it is a fresh field, relapsing into the previous method of control just means that we are playing in the same way while putting a smaller screen on our head. It cuts out a whole range of disabled players from the start.

Occam's Razor, would usually say that the easiest solution is the best solution. This term, first created in the 13th century by William of Occam, denotes a method by which scientists try and come up with the right solution -- which is usually the easiest one (you can read more about that here.) 

If we are to look at the tech behind VR, there would are two main points of view where the easiest solution is completely different.

First, you can apply Occam's Razor to VR as a path from consoles to the latest tech. In doing so, we would stick with the ableist structure of "hand held controllers have worked in the past, and they will work in the future."

On the other hand, if you apply Occam's Razor to VR from the perspective of a new field the answer might not necessarily be the same. In order to interact with the virtual sphere, the easiest way could be to interact directly. This could be done with something like FOVE VR's eye tracking device. Or it can also be approached with Microsoft HoloLen's voice recognition software.

When coming up with the cool ways to interact with tracking, HTC Vive went even further by adding two cameras in the room to see where you are going. But due to its cost, the need for controllers, and the space required -- the Vive isn't the ideal solution for people with disabilities.

If someone who is designing the VR tech is reading this, would it be possible to approach VR similar to how we do prosthetic limbs? Instead of thinking that the person has the ability to use their hands, the focus could be turned towards other body parts when developing control systems. For example, an arm band or a bracelet could be combined with Vive's camera tracking.

Another thing that has been developed over the past several years are brain computer interfaces, like Neurosky's Mindwave. It is a gaming BCI that uses your brain waves to throw commands to the computer, telling the avatar to move or shoot. Although, going back to Occam's Razor, this might not be the ideal solution. It is, however, a possible one.


The race to perfect virtual reality is far from over. But since there is still an open playing field in which to find the correct answer, companies should focus on what isn't ableist. At least this way, everyone can end up playing the same game despite their disability.

New Pac-Man inspired fitness app being unveiled at CES https://www.gameskinny.com/l7w5r/new-pac-man-inspired-fitness-app-being-unveiled-at-ces https://www.gameskinny.com/l7w5r/new-pac-man-inspired-fitness-app-being-unveiled-at-ces Mon, 04 Jan 2016 19:30:01 -0500 QuintLyn

Game developer BANDAI NAMCO has teamed up with the creator of the Moff wearable band for kids to create an all new gamified fitness app titled Pac-Man Powered by Moff. The new app will be unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, NV this week.

The app features the classic Pac-Man game combined with motion-based control. Users will direct Pac-Man by moving their arms up, down, left, or right, guiding him through the maze and getting a workout at the same time. A smart-device (phone or tablet) is required to use the app. Whether the app will be made available for both iOS and Android has not been stated at this time, but as the device does work with both platforms we expect the app will as well.

Pac-Man Powered by Moff is the first collaborative project between the two companies following BANDAI NAMCO's investment in Moff in September. It will be unveiled Wednesday, January 6 -- with a preview / demo being made available during the rest of CES.

Unfamiliar with the Moff band?

The Moff band is a wearable "smart toy" designed with kids in mind. Originally funded on Kickstarter, the device is a cloud-based motion sensor in the form of a slap bracelet. In addition to a variety of apps, the Moff band boasts a library of sound effects that kids can select and use while playing. The sounds are selected from a library on their smart devices and generated when they move their arms.

It's important to note that while the Moff band is technically designed with kids aged 3 to 12 in mind, the company doesn't exactly discourage it being used by adults. That said. You might want to keep it turned off while in meetings.

Wearables in the Gaming World https://www.gameskinny.com/gw7rf/wearables-in-the-gaming-world https://www.gameskinny.com/gw7rf/wearables-in-the-gaming-world Sat, 06 Jun 2015 02:30:01 -0400 Steven Oz

Wearables are becoming more prevalent in today’s society. You see people at work with one. Most of them wear these at the gym. Some even when sleeping. There are wearables for every occasion.

So where does that leave us gamers? There is a market for this? Yep! First, let me define this for you. Wearable gaming is played with small computing devices, which are body-mounted in some fashion, and they support game play with functions not possible in established systems like consoles or computers.

It is a market that has not been tapped in the gaming world. There are some companies that have introduced the idea of a gamer style wearable. One example of this is Razer Nabu. This was a sport type band much like a FitBit. It had a small LED screen which showed caller ID, texts, and social media updates. This project was rolled out in a private beta to some members of the public. Since then Razer has stopped production and focused on promoting the Nabu X. While not fully a gaming Wearable, the Apple Watch does gamify everyday labor and fitness. Some companies have already created gaming apps for the Apple Watch.

Other major companies are interested in this technology. According to Sony President and CEO Kazuo Hirai believes that wearables that work with other tech including PlayStation consoles “have a lot of potential to make it a more exciting ecosystem,” Hirai said. “It’s not just the wearable but it’s in fact an extension of a lot of the product experiences that we bring to consumers today.”

There is one wearable that I avoided talking about...Virtual Reality. When getting into the topic of wearables you have to mention VR. Technically speaking, VR headsets are a wearable. It might not look like those little wrist bands or belt clips but you do wear and interact with it.

There are three main VR devices: Sony Morpheus, Samsung Gear VR and of course Oculus Rift. Most of these have been released to the public at the time of writing this. Developer kits are out there and content is being created. Many of these require a computer with high computing power or a console.

There are two problems with wearable gaming products: Price and Need. When creating a product you must have the right price. If the price is too high, no one will buy it. If it's too low, it can affect the credibility of your product. Sony's PlayStation 3 had that problem when it was first released back in 2006. The PS3 was priced at $500 and $600. People switched to a Xbox 360 and the PS3 continued to lose money.

Will it work? Will people buy a wearable designed for gaming? This is the question that I poised to a Facebook group I'm in. Most in the group would not buy a wearable on the first day of release. They would want to see if how the this device is supported. How will people react to this new piece of tech? Will it be a success or flop? This is what gamers want to know. 

If and when the gaming wearable comes out will you be buying it? Why or why not?

Google Glass: Your Next Powerful Gaming Device? https://www.gameskinny.com/nq40n/google-glass-your-next-powerful-gaming-device https://www.gameskinny.com/nq40n/google-glass-your-next-powerful-gaming-device Mon, 17 Nov 2014 07:01:51 -0500 Chris_Lemus

The technology in Google Glass is changing the way users share vision and technology in the same line of sight even while in open beta testing. Google’s wearable device offers benefits for various lifestyles, interests, and passions, including gaming.

The current state of gaming on Google Glass

Games have already been developed for the device, but the opportunity exists to expand the entertainment. The Mini-Games application currently holds five games that combine features such as voice recognition, motion, and device orientation. These games create a virtual playing space to hit a tennis ball, shoot a clay disk, or even recognize hand motions to slice objects.

Google Glass effectively combines the real world with the cyber world, but there is currently no option to incorporate reality with the playing space. There is also no possibility for competition among users with the same device and application.

What could be the future for Google Glass and gaming?

With further development, A plain street side table would provide a chance to play a game such as air hockey. A pair of Google Glass owners would connect to the same game and share a virtual playing field laid on a real life object, moving the pieces by selecting them with their hands as they appear on the table.

The use of one flat surface makes sharing an activity like gaming convenient, intriguing, and evolving. Without any extra game pieces, solid screens to be absorbed in, and limited choices by current gaming methods, gamers with Google Glass would be encouraged to take advantage of a gaming opportunity provided by their environment while being free to engage with their opponent.

Multiple gaming options can be created from one flat surface, from pool to a physics-based catapult game, but tabletop games should not be the conclusion of the wearable’s potential. Just as motion capture cameras and tablets have been integrated with video game consoles, mirrors and console support would enhance the content and quality of entertainment on Google Glass.

The opportunities for Google Glass to expand gaming is not as small as the clear spectacle that projects information. The possibilities are as far as the vision developers have during open beta to provide entertainment.

New Ways to Play: Wearable Tech, Virtual Reality, Geocaching, and Chromecast https://www.gameskinny.com/aivm6/new-ways-to-play-wearable-tech-virtual-reality-geocaching-and-chromecast https://www.gameskinny.com/aivm6/new-ways-to-play-wearable-tech-virtual-reality-geocaching-and-chromecast Sat, 20 Sep 2014 06:29:18 -0400 Kate Reynolds

With a lack of technological leaps in the past few years, it appears that the gaming industry is finally on the cusp of something new. While traditional gaming has been defined by consoles and button-mashing, the future of gaming is more physically involved, and not always console/computer dependent. 

Wearable Tech

To some, the idea of wearable technology immediately brings to mind Smartwatches and Google Glass. While the Pebble, Apple Watch, and Google Glass might have fun applications for the gaming world (EA is already developing for the Apple Watch), we'd like to think even further outside the box. 

First, it's important to look outside the adult demographic. People make the most boring and practical devices for grown-ups. Case in point: smartwatches. Sure, they're cool, and they function as pedometers (among other things). But none of that sounds fun. For fun that an adult can also take part in, it's time to focus on the teenage market. 

With a vast amount of free-time and the limitless backing of their parents' paychecks, the adolescent market is huge. One of the new players in this market is Mighty Cast, a wearable tech company that produces a tech-infused charm bracelet called the Nex Band. 

In addition to the features mentioned below, the bracelets flicker when another Nex Band user is nearby, they can send and receive coded messages (ah the art of hiding stuff from teachers). By adding different charms or "mods", kids can completely change the functionality of their bracelet. Cool, no?

Since MightyCast has broadened their mission to support third-party developers, we're bound to see some incredible new uses for this machine pop up, one that may well make it as practical for adults as it is fun for adolescents.  

The Nex Band is only the first wave in this new field of wearable tech, which is saturated by IndieGoGo projects like Chemion and Smarty Ring, the Kickstarter-funded Memi, and the wearable tail, Tailly. Yes, I did include a wearable smart-tail for humans on this list. Wearable technology is hot right now, and we're just waiting to see what types of gaming will come out of it. 

Virtual Reality

Everyone knows about the Oculus Rift, but any list of "new ways to play" would be incomplete without mentioning the new virtual reality devices currently in development for the gaming community. 

The Oculus Rift was an insanely sucessful Kickstarter project that garnered almost $2.5 million by the end of its campaign in 2012. Two years later and we're finally seeing people use the prototypes, and it still looks as amazing as ever. 

I personally got to use an Oculus Rift at a party last year, and it felt like a whole new world of possibilities had opened in front of me.  The complete immersion the system allows for full engagement into whatever you're playing. (I can tell you right now that I will never play a horror game on an Oculus Rift.) 

Of course the Oculus has competition. According to VentureBeat, Sony's Project Morpheus is 85% of the way complete. I don't really care which of these is first to the market, just as long as I can get a VR headset in the near future. 

Virtual reality is neat and all, but the Virtuix Omni takes immersion to the next level. A VR headset will only immerse you visually in a game. By adding an enhanced VR treadmill to the mix, the Omni will give you physical immersion. 


Consider how much walking there is in large games like the Fallout series or Skyrim. The Omni gives you the opportunity to do the physical walking for yourself in addition to crouching, jumping, and quick turns. It's a whole new level for your virtual reality gaming experience, and you might also accidentally exercise while using it. 


Geocaching, the game of using a GPS to find hidden treasure caches,  is perhaps the most obscure mention on this list, but it's a growing area of play. When smartphones added GPS capability, there was a surge of interest in this obscure hobby, which games have only improved upon in the past few years. 

The first big game combining the idea of geocaching with smartphones was Ingress. Developed by Niantic Labs, the game asks users to establish "portals" at various geographic sites in order to progress the game's movement. 

The game rewards players for virtually interacting with the physical world around them as the game's science-fiction narrative demands it. Like the Virtuix Omni, this seems to operate on the principle that physical engagement adds a new layer to gameplay, which is supported by a plethora of new Geocaching-esque games that have recently arisen.

Google's 2014 April Fool's Prank mimicked this type of gameplay without asking users to physically leave their homes. Google placed over 150 Pokemon on the Google Map App for players to find. However, the trailer spoke to a more Ingress-like experience that the game didn't deliver.

As much fun as I had playing Google's Pokemon Map Challenge, and I was fairly obsessed, I would have planned all sorts of road-trips, camping, and hiking opportunities to catch Pokemon in the real-life wild. With Pokemon on the line, I might have actually gotten around to planning my cross-continental vacations, since everyone knows there are different Pokemon on different continents. 

Google Chromecast

Chromecast is Google's device that allows you to stream almost anything on your computer or Android device to your television. While it's been a really nice development that's allowed me to cancel my HuluPlus subscription, one of the most interesting ways to use Chromecast is as a gaming device. 

Earlier this year, I looked at a Cards Against Humanity clone called Casts Against Civility. The game has since been renamed Dehumanize Your Friends, and uses your Chromecast and Android devices to enable people to play the game on your television screen. Something like this: 

To play, you'll need a television, Chromecast, and an Android device for every player, along with the Dehumanize Your Friends app. 

That sounds like a lot of set up for a game, but just think of how many cards you have to shuffle and get ready for a regular Cards Against Humanity session.  Plus, the television offers a central location for everyone to see the cards in play, enabling everyone to pay more attention and laugh harder. 

Other apps specifically for Chromecast have been popping up in the Google Play store. Games like UnoCast (Uno for Chromecast) and Trivia Cast are fun party games, and if this type of use for the Chromecast continues, we're sure to see a more varied selection.