Archive: Dec 2017

Snatch – The AR App Aims High For 2018

2017 has been a huge year for augmented reality as it gears up to become the next culture-changing computing platform. As part of this we’ve seen several apps and platforms positioning themselves ready to be a major success in 2018 – one of which is Snatch. Boasting significant venture capital funding and enjoying a phenomenal beta launch in 2017, Snatch is an AR-infused treasure hunt that features augmented reality mini-games created by the experts at Draw & Code.

If augmented reality is all about the intersection where digital worlds meet with our reality, then Snatch embodies this ethos better than just about any other app. Why? Because not only does it use Pokemon Go-style real-world map-based games, it also boasts far more sophisticated AR (augmented reality) mini-games than Niantic’s smash hit and then – here’s the really cool part – Snatch actually gives the player real prizes. That’s right – if you win £10,000 in the game, you get that money in your bank account! What’s more, it doesn’t cost you a penny to download or play.

Sounds too good to be true? Well, it’s a tough game to crack – as you would expect with real prizes at stake. Not only do you have to walk around your environment to find parcels, your fellow players can ‘snatch’ them from you. Things get heated as you fend off their attacks using ever-more advanced defences.

Snatch AR Game

Getting the prize parcels themselves is a whole heap of fun. After seeking out digital packages located near you in the real world, you play mini-games on your smartphone that, thanks to AR, actually take place in the environment in which you find yourself.

These mini-games are produced by Draw & Code using the latest ARKit technology from Apple – the tech that is likely to propel AR ever further upwards. Already Snatch is buoyed with support from major brands who are keen to supply prizes and sponsor locations within the app. This is the key to keeping the app free for users and to allow them to enjoy ever more generous prizes.

Since its Beta launch that ran from spring to autumn 2017, Snatch has garnered over 500,000 downloads. Since then it has gained hundreds of thousands more and has sat in the UK top 10 apps – that’s despite the game being limited to these shores. It’s clear that the ultimate potential for the Snatch app is huge. Could this prove to be the Pokemon Go that adults can play without stigma from their serious-minded pals? We certainly think so.

If you are yet to try Snatch for yourself, search for ‘Snatch AR’ on the App Store today and go get those parcels! During the holiday season you can also enjoy a Christmas-themed Snatchatron mini-game, as seen above. Happy Snatching!

D&C Release AR Game Tricky Temple for Merge Cube

This week sees the release of Tricky Temple – Draw & Code’s unique take on the tower defence genre that utilises the Merge Cube AR (augmented reality) toy and game system. Following on from our previous releases with Merge VR, this is another familiar game-mechanic that has been turned on its head and placed into the hands of the player.

With over a million units sold since the Merge Cube’s launch in summer 2017, this accessible AR toy and game system is aimed at families, putting the burgeoning technology into the hands of a wide audience. The toy and its associated apps have featured in several Christmas must-have lists and is aimed at families rather than solely hardcore tech-enthusiasts. In fact, you can glimpse Tricky Temple in the latest TV advert for the Merge Cube. How cool is that?

Having already provided two of the Merge Cube’s launch titles – Defuse and Snake Attack – the team at Draw & Code set about using the six-sided Cube to create a game that make the most of this deceptively simple platform.

Tricky Temple shifts the tower defence format from a flat plane to a three dimensional world that is held in the player’s hand. Using gaze-controls, the player has to secure the riches of the temple by building one of four types of weapon before customising them. It’s your job to halt the ‘raiders’ before they take all your gold.

The game is part of the family-friendly array of mini-games and educational experiences, produced using Merge’s SDK, that are available to download from the Merge Miniverse store. Compatible with a broad swathe of Apple and Android mobile devices, the current range of titles are the result of a $1 million fund for developers from Merge VR.

Back in the summer, Merge VR founder Franklin Lyons said that; “The Draw & Code team is on the forefront of creating amazing AR experiences—we’re happy and excited to be working with them to bring these new forms of play to people around the world.”

Since then the Merge Cube has been a hit with a largely US-centric launch that has brought in more than a million sales and is expected to climb further as Christmas approaches. Aiming to blend the latest high-tech mixed reality techniques with the accessibility of mobile apps, the Merge Cube is ideally paired with the Merge VR/AR Goggles. You can pick up both the Cube and the Goggles at Walmart, Amazon and Target.

“The Merge Cube is one of the early success stories in augmented reality and hopefully Tricky Temple will help keep that momentum going,” says Draw & Code’s John Keefe, “It’s exciting to be contributing to this product that promises to put the latest tech quite literally into the hands of the next generation.”

In early 2018 you can expect Draw & Code to continue their successful partnership with Merge VR as we bring more titles to their platforms. First up will be Boom Boom Galaxy Master – a multiplayer game that promises to take the Merge Cube to new places.

The Merge Cube is available now online and in stores for $14.99 with Tricky Temple available to download here from Merge VR’s Miniverse digital store.

Dear Santa… 10 Geek Gifts We Want

One of the bonuses of working at Draw & Code is that we get to play video games and explore the latest tech as part of our job. So, what do you get the ultimate tech-fiends for Christmas? From the frivolous to the fun, we asked members of the team to come up with their ideal Christmas technology and games wishlist. Here’s what they picked:

#1 – PlayStation VR
An absolute must-have for this Christmas, PlayStation VR costs a lot (although the Black Friday discounts are continuing it seems) but it offers one of the slickest ways to get involved with virtual reality. A sleek design with a comfortable fit, stunning vivid gameplay that almost matches the high-end PC headsets (playing at 120 FPS isn’t bad) there are many reasons why you should definitely consider Playstation VR. With titles like the horrific Resident Evil 7: Biohazard and the wonderous Robinson: The Journey, there is more than enough on offer to woo the hardcore gamer.

Playstation VR

#2 – Nintendo Switch
For those who don’t want to stick a screen on their head, the Nintendo Switch delivers. As a portable gaming device it cannot be bettered. With over 500 accessible games including a rip-roaring indie dev scene and the usual Nintendo exclusives like Mario and Zelda, there is nothing to not like about the Switch.

Nintendo Switch

#3 – Star Wars – Jedi Challenges AR kit
If you’re a Star Wars fanatic, this Lenovo-powered AR headset experience will be your dream-come-true. You are never too old to complete the training with Jedi Challenges – it uses augmented reality to let you wield a lightsaber against holographic enemies right in your living room. You can also play Holo Chess (just remember to let the Wookie win) or take charge of your forces in a strategy game. Unboxing a shiny silver lightsaber for Christmas doesn’t sound too bad an idea? However, over £200 on a piece of hardware that will only ever be used for these games and also requires your smartphone to power it isn’t the platform you are looking for.

Lenovo Disney Star Wars AR

#4 – Hyper X Cloud gaming headset
A slightly more sensible gift is the Hyper X Cloud gaming headset. One of the team here at Draw & Code described it as the ‘most comfortable gaming headset and most impressive audio device’ that he has ever owned. Compatible with all your devices, comfortable to wear and boasting passive noise cancellation optimised for pro-gaming. The microphone is also detachable making it perfect to switch between console and mobile use when on the go.

Hyper X Cloud Gaming Headset

#5 Toshiba LED 4K Ultra HD Smart TV
There’s a Currys advert on TV that says the true meaning of Christmas is 4K TV. And who are we to argue with that beautiful sentiment? Future-proof your TV experience with the Toshiba LED 4K Smart TV. Currently at £329, this TV comes with many features such as Toshiba’s Smart Portal which boasts a ton of features including the ability to record shows to USB to watch back later on like a 21st century VHS. Nice.

Toshiba 4K TV

#6 – Meccano Max robot
With the impending robot uprising around the corner, what better time to teach your children early on about the joys of artificial intelligence? Meccano combines AI and customisable programming to create MAX. Not only does this Johnny 5-esque toy come with built-in infrared sensors to help it sense obstacles and navigate surfaces as it rolls around on sturdy smart wheels, it then challenges your kids to play games and even learns from them. It’s great to see Meccano, the original tech toy and a Liverpool-born brand, back on form and super-relevant to today’s kids.

Meccano Max Robot

#7 – Merge Cube AR toy
Let’s start with a disclaimer – Draw & Code have developed three games for the Merge Cube augmented reality platform. However, as an accessible piece of immersive tech that is available at stocking-filler prices, it is simply unbeatable. There are already a lot of games, puzzles and immersive videos available for the Merge platform (that also includes the Merge VR mobile headset) and it’s the only immersive tech platform designed for the ground up with pre-teens in mind.
Merge Cube AR

#8 – DJI Spark drone

At £449, the DJI Spark is not the cheapest drone on the market, but it is head-scratchingly intelligent in terms of its abilities and can be mastered in minutes by novice flyers. Sounding like a robot wasp, this drone has the ability to track you and act as your own personal filming helicopter that never leaves your side. That is the future we deserve.
DJI Spark

#9 – Anki Cosmo robot

Anki are famed as the modern Scalextric with their smartphone-controlled toy car racing systems, now they are muscling in on the STEM market with the Cosmo. Essentially a bulldozer with a personality, the Cosmo is a similar take on the AI-powered toy robot to Meccano’s Max. I wonder what would happen if you got the two of them to talk to each other? I’ll put that on the must-try list.
Cozmo Robot

#10 Beasts of Balance connected board game

A crowd-funding success story and a product of the great table-top games resurgence, Beasts of Balance purports to be an augmented reality game (hmmm, that may be stretching the definition of AR) and is 100% a hoot. Coming across like Jenga meets The Lion King and Monument Valley, you stack toy animals and watch them mount up on the accompanying iPad app. A lot better than Pie Face, that’s for sure!

Beasts of Balance