AR is a double-edged sword: It’s exciting and novel, but a departure from established behavior. That means it carries the curse of new technologies: having to educate consumers en masse. For that reason, AR often gains the most consumer traction when it builds on the familiar.

For example, Snapchat Lenses were built on the already-popular act of selfie sharing. This not only gave AR a well-traveled and virally-fueled place to incubate, but it made the format approachable. As Charlie Fink says, it took something we were already doing and made it better.

This phenomenon often kicks in simply because it plays to users’ comfort and cognition. In other words, if a given AR experience is anchored in – or piggybacking on – established and comfortable activities, it’s less of a behavioral leap for habit-bound consumers.

This is also a guiding principle for Tilt Five, which builds on the familiarity of family game night. The always-astute Tilt Five founder and CEO Jeri Ellsworth took the stage to break down this philosophy at AWE USA – the focus of this week’s XR Talks (video and takeaways below).

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Social & Shared

Backing up for those unfamiliar, Tilt Five features AR glasses and a retroreflective board that together render animated elements that bring tabletop games to life. It’s also a platform on which developers can build new experiences, thus transcending the traditional board game category.

The result is a range of tabletop AR experiences, mainly in a social and shared context. We’re talking everything from RC Pro Am-style racetrack games to D&D-style games. In all cases, the idea is to build on the familiar space of your tabletop, enlivening it with gamified digital depth.

To accomplish all of the above, Tilt Five has also strategically targeted an experiential sweet spot in the spatial spectrum (ranging from AR to VR). Ellsworth asserts that VR is sometimes too disembodied while most AR glasses suffer from washed-out and low-contrast graphics.

Drilling down on the latter, Tilt Five has engineered around this and other longstanding AR technical challenges. These achievements are due to a few factors. One is Ellsworth and team’s technical acumen. Another is the chosen form factor that offers some inherent advantages.

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Holograms, Not Hardware

Zeroing in on Tilt Five’s form-factor advantages, its tabletop approach lets it sidestep some of AR’s limitations. Often these limitations arise as AR tries to boil the ocean and achieve “AR everywhere.” Tilt Five rather shoots for AR somewhere, which lets in nail a specific use case.

For example, its signature retroreflective board naturally accomplishes occlusion. This happens as the board returns light to the glasses that can be blocked by physical objects (like your hand). The unblocked portions of light travel back to the glasses, rendering an occluded image.

The dynamics of the stationary experience have also enabled a 110-degree field of view. And beyond technical specs, there are intangible elements says Ellsworth. For example, the shared experience lets players see each other’s faces and non-verbal cues for fun gaming results.

Add it all up, and one of Tilt Five’s key principles is that it’s selling holograms, not hardware. This is a key philosophy and north star for the company in creating fun and whimsical AR experiences. It will continue to be driven by these principles and the wisdom of the great Jeri Ellsworth.

See Ellsworth’s full talk below and stay tuned every Friday for more XR Talks… 

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