In October 2013, the castAR headset raised more than one million dollars on Kickstarter. More than two years later, Technical Illusions, the company behind the augmented reality device, has announced it will refund most backers, while also providing them with free consumer-level castAR headsets when they're ready.
What is castAR? It's an augmented reality system which includes both a headset, and a play surface. The frames of the glasses have two micro projectors that cast a perspective view of a holographic stereoscopic 3D image onto the surface. There are markers on the surface, which the camera uses as identifiers to track the user's head position and orientation.
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The campaign also offered a variety of accessories during its crowdfunding campaign, including a joystick with 3D input, an RFID tracking grid for adding miniatures to the surface, bases for the grid, and a larger surface for a bigger play area.
According to an interview Technical Illusions' CEO David Henkel-Wallace had with GamesIndustry, the headset was always intended to ship as a developer kit. The problem is that many backers were expecting a consumer product, complete with games and software.
The company originally estimated that the headset would ship in September 2014. However, due to complications, only the early bird backers were able to get their hands on a unit. The whole industry knows that augmented reality is taking longer to get right than VR. So, in an effort to do right by its supporters, the company is reimbursing every backer that pledged at the Magic Wand hardware tier or above (four lower pledges were for company support).
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The only backers that won't receive refunds are those who pledged in the Early and Almost as Early castAR tiers, as those backers have already received their prototype headsets. Henkel-Wallace notes that those backers can receive a discount code for one free consumer castAR at launch if they would like to exchange it.
Henkel-Wallace recently told backers via a Kickstarter update that a survey would be sent out to gather needed information to refund pledges. Those with additional questions can find out more on the FAQ page. The consumer castAR is expected to be ready for the public in 2017.