Why Smartphone Laser Tag (With Augmented Reality) Has Failed

Due to the increasing popularity of smartphones over the past 15-20 years, it was inevitable that the home laser tag industry would eventually create a smartphone laser tag concept.

There have been various smartphone laser tag sets with augmented reality effects created over time, but their success has been inconsistent. Given the importance of smartphones in our society and the popularity of home laser tag, it is puzzling why smartphone laser tag has not been more successful.

This article will provide an explanation for why certain smartphone laser tag products have not met expectations.

What Is Augmented Reality?

Many people are familiar with the concept of virtual reality, which involves computer-generated environments that can be interacted with.

Augmented reality, or AR, is a technological process that overlays information such as sounds, images, and text onto the real world we perceive, enhancing our reality rather than replacing it.

In the context of smartphone augmented reality laser tag, this refers to the additional elements displayed on your smartphone screen in conjunction with your surroundings.

However, not all smartphone laser tag sets provide true augmented reality, although the concept is generally quite similar.

3 Reasons Smartphone Laser Tag Has Never Succeeded

Here are three reasons why the smartphone home laser tag concept has not achieved success thus far, and why it is unlikely to do so in the future.

1. Smartphones Continuously Evolve

Smartphones have a relatively short market lifespan. The new iPhone you purchased recently may become outdated in the near future.

The continuous evolution of the smartphone market requires a significant ongoing investment to stay up to date. Smartphone laser tag guns and their apps must also evolve to remain compatible and avoid becoming outdated.

With traditional home laser tag, there is no such problem. You create a product, make improvements based on feedback, and then continue marketing and selling the product.

Continuing to develop new versions of the laser tag product is unnecessary once it is deemed stable.

2. It’s a Risky Game

Smartphone laser tag has potential risks and dangers.

One potential issue is that engaging in physical activity while being distracted by a smartphone can increase the risk of accidents.

With true augmented reality, the smartphone screen becomes the primary focus, which can be risky, especially when playing battles outside on the streets.

There is another issue to consider. Imagine this scenario: you observe a person outside running with a laser tag gun. Due to the distance, it is difficult to see the details clearly. Then, you notice another individual approaching from the corner, also holding an object that resembles a gun. This situation has the potential to escalate rapidly and become dangerous.

3. It’s Just Not Old-School Enough

I prefer old-school laser tag and Nerf. I enjoy aiming and shooting without excessive technology. Just grab a blaster and chase your opponent. It’s that simple.

A scoring system can be useful for keeping track of scores, and having some form of technology to assist with this is advantageous.

Smartphone laser tag, with augmented reality, may seem appealing in theory, but I personally find the additional features to be quite distracting.

3 Examples of (Failed) Smartphone Laser Tag Products

Now, let’s examine some specific examples of smartphone augmented reality laser tag products that have not been successful or have not lived up to expectations.

Failure is not necessarily a negative thing. It is commendable when individuals or small companies take risks and invest in new products they believe in.

This requires bravery and determination. Even if the product does not succeed, valuable lessons can be learned from the experience, which can influence future endeavors.

1. Hex3 AppTag Laser Blaster

The Hex3 AppTag Laser Blaster was launched on Kickstarter in 2012 as one of the initial home laser tag products that offered the ability to attach a smartphone to the blaster, enhancing the laser tag experience.

The product successfully raised $30K, but it did not gain traction as updates stopped within a year. One of the possible issues with the product was its compatibility with different smartphone brands and models.

However, the concept, at the time, was innovative, and the inventor deserves recognition for their efforts to bring this product to market.

Check out this video to see what the Hex3 AppTag Laser Blaster was all about:

2. Father.IO

Father.IO is a smartphone laser tag system that was funded through Indiegogo. It utilizes an inceptor that must be attached to a smartphone, along with an app, to transform the smartphone into a laser tag gun.

The biggest issue with the Father.io product is that it doesn’t use a real laser tag gun. Instead, your smartphone acts as the laser tag gun. While this concept is revolutionary, it does feel strange to be shooting with your smartphone.

One aspect that makes laser tag enjoyable is the act of shooting each other with toy guns. However, using a smartphone for aiming and shooting removes this element and can feel counterintuitive.

Please watch this video to gain an understanding of how Father.IO operates.

Pretty cool, right?

It is clear that they made significant investments in their marketing and I appreciate their dedication to their product.

However, the product did not gain traction despite generating a substantial amount of money on the Indiegogo website.

Based on the most recent updates and comments, it appears that the product did not succeed and many of the backers did not receive it.

It is unfortunate when people come together to design and create a new product with passion, but sometimes things do not work out as planned.

3. Recoil Laser Tag by Skyrocket

Recoil Laser Tag is an augmented reality laser tag system that was released in 2017 by tech-entertainment company Skyrocket. It allows up to 16 players to participate in the same battle.

Recoil revolves around a central Wifi game hub that functions as a GPS-enabled local network router. Each blaster in a battle uses a smartphone with an app that connects to the game hub. The features on paper are pretty unique, but, as you can imagine, the system is also quite complicated.

I find the concept behind it, with a centralized unit, interesting. The blasters also have an appealing appearance.

Currently, the smartphone laser tag sets are still available for purchase online. However, the sales numbers are not very promising, and it is anticipated that this product will be discontinued in the near future.

What About Nerf Laser Ops Pro?

Could Nerf potentially be a solution for smartphone laser tag?

Nerf Laser Ops Pro was released in 2018 and is a product worth considering. You can find a review of Laser Ops Pro here.

Additionally, Laser Ops Pro offers the convenience of not requiring your smartphone to be connected to the gun in order to enjoy a thrilling laser tag battle.

  • Engage in live-action laser battles with ease using our ready-to-use set.
  • Every alphapoint blaster includes light and sound effects, as well as unlimited ammo.
  • Both of these laser ops pro Nerf toy blasters have the ability to fire a single-shot ir beam upwards.

Without the app, the Laser Ops Pro blasters still function fully with light and sound effects, health and ammo indicators, a quick-reload button, and more.

The laser tag blasters are functional without augmented reality effects. If you prefer to use your smartphone, you have the option to attach it to the blaster or your arm using the provided armbands. Simply download the app and you are ready to start playing.

Is There A Good Future In Using Smartphones For Augmented Reality?

  1. Rapid Tech Advancements: The rapid technological advancements in smartphone hardware, especially in areas such as camera quality and processing power, make them a viable platform for augmented reality experiences.
  2. Ubiquity of Smartphones: Given that smartphones are ubiquitous and an integral part of people’s daily lives, they provide an immediate and widespread platform for AR adoption.
  3. Application in Various Fields: Augmented reality on smartphones has vast potential applications ranging from gaming and entertainment to more practical uses in fields like healthcare, real estate, and education.
  4. Integration with IoT: As the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to expand, smartphones can serve as a bridge between the physical and digital world, amplifying AR experiences by interacting with connected devices around us.
  5. Cost-Effective Solution: Compared to specialized AR glasses or headsets, smartphones are a cost-effective solution, allowing a broader audience to access and experience augmented reality.
  6. Evolving AR Developer Tools: Companies like Apple and Google have introduced AR developer platforms, ARKit and ARCore respectively, signaling a strong future in AR application development for smartphones.
  7. Consumer Familiarity: Since consumers are already familiar with smartphone interfaces, the adoption curve for AR applications on these devices is expected to be smoother than introducing entirely new gadgets.
  8. Limitations and Challenges: However, it’s essential to note that while smartphones offer promise, they also have limitations like screen size and battery life, which might constrain the richness of AR experiences compared to dedicated devices.
  9. Role in Shopping and Retail: Augmented reality on smartphones is revolutionizing the shopping experience by allowing consumers to virtually try products, from clothes to furniture, before making a purchase decision.
  10. Continuous Investment: The continuous investment and interest from major tech players in augmented reality signify a bright future, and with smartphones being one of the most accessible devices globally, they’ll likely play a central role in AR’s evolution.

The potential is vast, but like all technology, its success will be determined by user adoption, application quality, and the manner in which it can be integrated seamlessly into our daily routines.

I am interested in hearing your thoughts on augmented reality smartphone laser tag. Do you have any opinions on the concept, or do you agree with the issues that I have discussed?

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