Being a fan of new technology (and video games), I of course couldn’t resist the urge to buy Nintendo’s new 3DS. After playing with the Augmented Reality cards that come with the 3DS, I couldn’t help but wonder how exactly the device recognizes it’s looking at an AR card. If you’re not familiar with Nintendo’s Augmented Reality cards and how they work, check this out.
Knowing that the cards themselves can be reprinted to any size, or even viewed from an iPhone, I thought I would try to test the boundaries further by creating a gray-scale card. I was skeptical that the 3DS would recognize it, but it worked flawlessly.
After some brainstorming in the Refactr office about what technique to try next, we decided to make a white board AR card. With some encouraging words from the guys who pay our salary (“No, that’s not a waste of time–that’s awesome!”) we got to work.
We projected the gray scale image onto the white board, traced the borders, and filled in the dark parts. Our first shading attempt was a little sloppy. The only way the 3DS would recognize it is if we projected white light onto the board to make the bright spots brighter.
At this point it was pretty obvious that contrast is a major factor for the 3DS to recognize the card. After a night of partial defeat we came back ready to try again. We erased the shaded parts and more tediously filled them in darker.
Knowing this attempt was our last hope, we took a deep breath and opened the 3DS.
And then we just had some fun.