The Fantabulous Contraptions of GDC

Every year, GDC gets more and more consumer-friendly. Just look at this year’s show: the Gears 2 announcement, hands-on with Street Fighter IV and Too Human, more Fable 2 details... But don’t let the smooth taste fool you. Most of GDC is about the nuts and bolts of making games, really unglamorous stuff like mip-mapping and middleware and who is licensing whose embedded device processing architecture.

In the spirit of the real GDC, we scoured the exhibits and press releases for these wonderfully weird products- proof that sometimes all it takes is a soldering iron and a dream.

Zaniest Displays

Vuzix Virtual Reality Eyewear
The Pitch
: "Our iWear product family of high resolution Video Eyewear is the first ever to solve the main challenge when viewing high-resolution video and digital information on portable devices - the small screen. Worn like regular glasses, all of our iWear models provide a big screen viewing experience ranging from 44" to 62" virtual displays."

Now this sounds like it might actually be cool. The only problem is getting over the fear that iWear will do to your retinas what the Atari 2600 did to television screens. If in 10 years the early adopters are still gifted with sight, we’ll consider it.

The Pitch: "Z-Dome from Euro Touch Interactive is a single-user, rear-projection immersive display - a lot of words to explain a wild ride. Within the Z-Dome immersive area, the user visually feels a part of the environment. From a distance (to more than 30 feet) the dome displays a multi-dimensional effect that has near 3D depth."

The Z-Dome was also on display at E for All last year, with a sticker price around $19,000. No matter how future-cool you might think it looks, you will be at a huge disadvantage because you’ll have to physically turn your head to see things that anyone playing on a flat display will see instantly. Check back when game engines start rendering a 180-degree field of view. Until then, the Z-Dome will remain little more than a display oddity.