Augmented Reality is where the physical, real-world is augmented or merged with computer generated imagery. Basically what we will see very soon is a mobile phone application which when you point your phone at a street, the device will display information about restaurants in th
e street, or where the nearest public toilet is over the video of the street.
Now The Hidden Park is not going to show you the nearest restaraunt when you point it at a street, but it is a great idea in using Augmented reality and creating a fun game for children and parents.
The setting for the game is any of a growing list of locations, in particular the one I tested the game in was the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney. For you Melbourne dwellers, there is the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne and other locations around the world. This is a great idea for an outing with the kids, get them outdoors and close to technology at the same time as well as educating them.
You are provided a map of the selected park you are visiting, on the map are the important things like the toilets, park information, and of course the objectives of the game. You are encouraged to run the game before you leave as you have to download the information for whichever location you are visit if it is the first time. Also, they recommend you take headphones with you and a picnic basket.
The game has some very nicely animated cut scenes and in my opinion so great voice acting.
Another great idea is that the developers take suggestions about locations you would like included in the game. There is also a small community forum on the website now which you can submit suggestions for upgrades and report problems.
Now to be honest, I would like to see more functionality and a fix of GPS map in the game, I got lost trying to follow the map to the starting position of the game. It also looks as though the other countries may be receiving different updates to Australia as on the forum there is mention of features which i have not seen in the version I tested. There is mention of an update coming to the app store, soon I hope.
All in all it is a great application and for US$8.99 to get you and the kids outdoors and have a great time, I feel its more than worth it, considering the price of a movie ticket and popcorn now days. That is if you already own the $1000 iPhone of course.
The Hidden Park Website: