The last few years, we’ve seen smartphones completely take over the consumer market. If there’s one thing that Apples iPhone has done well, it has taught the general public that smartphones aren’t just for geeks anymore. When you go to get a new cell phone now, you’ll see many choices of iPhones, Android phones, Blackberry devices, Windows Phone 7, and WebOS, all of which are now more prominent than “dumbphones” or feature phones. (Well, maybe not so much with the WebOS.) But as much as we love our smartphones, there’s one function that still can’t be met by your smartphone: Sitting around the table with your buddies, poring over a game board together. ePawn intends to bring those worlds together, with its Arena.
Using various stickers to track real-world objects, the ePawn Arena will interface with smartphones, tablets, and PCs to allow games designed for those devices to interact with game pieces on the surface that they created. They were showing off the prototypes at E3, and the technology seems sound. The stickers allow the tracking for pieces of various types, for various players, even able to track the direction each piece is facing.
From chess to checkers, from Battleship to wargames, there are numerous possibilities to what types of games can take advantage of this new hardware, across various platforms. The Android platform is enthusiastically supported, and ePawn assures us that the SDK is quick and easy to integrate into any upcoming or even existing game.
The prototypes they had on display ran around 10-12″, but they have their eye on something closer to 20″ at launch. They’re targeting October to start bringing these to market, at approximately a $400 price point. While it won’t be the cheapest accessory you ever buy for your Android phone, if developers get on board (please please please!), it could bring an unprecedented experience to your smartphone gaming. You’ll find the video below, comprised equally of promo shots and actual demo units that were actually working on the floor. Be sure and let us know what you think of this device in the comments!