Sony has unveiled its new Wonderbook Augmented Reality platform at E3. The folding, book-like device is an Augmented Reality pad that works in conjunction with the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Eye and PlayStation Move motion controller to render superimposed computer graphics over the image of the Wonderbook and user on the TV. Targeted as an educational tool for children, the device will launch with J.K. Rowling's Book of Spells.
The principle behind the Wonderbook will be familiar to Nintendo 3DS owners who have played with the AR Cards shipped with the device. The 3DS's built in camera pick up the image printed on the card, and calculate from its apparent size and perspective the relative position of the console and user. The 3DS superimposes computer images onto the card when viewed the 3DS's screen, almost as if the screen were a window.
The Wonderbook appears to work in much the same way, the device merely forming a much larger version of a 3DS AR Card that the user rests on their lap or on the floor in front of them. Unlike the 3DS the user is facing the camera, and so also appears on screen with the Wonderbook, and any computer graphics rendered by the PlayStation 3.
The Book of Spells game demonstrated for the device used PlayStation Move controls as a makeshift magic wand with which to cast spells from the Harry Potter universe. Judging by the demo, this looks a rather less wieldy setup for AR than the 3DS, being that the user is forced to look at a TV the entire time - the Wonderbook device itself is almost a necessary evil. One wonders, being the size of a large hardback children's book, if the device really needs to be quite so large.
Sony was on rather safer ground unveiling Quantic Dream's Beyond: Two Souls, effectively an unofficial sequel to 2010's Heavy Rain starring a mocapped Ellen Page as Jodie Holmes, a sort of teenage mixture of Richard Kimble (fictional wanted fugitive) and John Edward (universally revered medium). Quantic Dream, you may recall, were also responsible for the Kara PlayStation 3 tech demo we looked at in March. Ellen Page, or at least a striking if unofficial digital likeness of her, also cropped up in Naughty Dog's The Last of Us (think Uncharted plus zombies).
A demo of God of War: Ascension also impressed while Assassin's Creed 3 spin-off Liberation was a welcome announcement for PlayStation Vita, featuring a female playable protagonist in a series first. PlayStation 3 and Vita cross-compatibility was demo'd in the same of Sony's answer to Super Smash Bros, PlayStation AllStars: Battle Royale (just one of the many games on show in dire need of a colectomy) with users on the E3 stage playing a multiplayer match from both a PlayStation 3 and connected Vitas.