Gamification often combines real and virtual world experiences, but most often the interface is a limited to the capabilities of a smartphone or a wearable monitor such as the Nike+ FuelBand. Advances in human interface technologies such as head mounted displays, augmented reality, natural language interfaces and gesture control are beginning to provide entirely new opportunities for bridging the real and virtual worlds and enabling more natural and immersive gamified experiences.
We have already seen some examples of the combination of gamification and advanced interfaces with gesture control technologies such as Kinect for Xbox 360. Gesture control technologies can ‘see’ how you are moving, analyse your posture and coach you more effectively. While the technology is still evolving, it is being used in gamified training solutions such as Nike+ Kinect Training and physical rehabilitation solutions such as the Jintronix platform.
Head mounted displays like Google Glass will provide new opportunities for gamified solutions by enabling augmented reality to be seamlessly integrated. Imagine running in a virtual race where you can see other (virtual) runners, or where you are being chased by zombies. That’s exactly what ‘Race Yourself’ is planning to do. Combining the augmented reality features of Google Glass, with the motivation of gamification, it is a great example of what the next generation of gamified solutions will look like.
Kinect and Glass are two examples of how advanced human interface technologies can enable a more immersive gamified experience. As these and other human interface technologies continue to improve in quality, and become more affordable, the barriers between real and virtual worlds will shrink, and new opportunities for gamified solutions will become possible. For a vision of what that might look like, check out the Sight video. It is a great futuristic film that demonstrates some of the potential for combining gamification with advanced interface technologies and blurring the boundaries of the real and virtual worlds.