GDC: Sony NGP’s augmented reality wows crowd

Sony used a session at GDC to take its NGP out for a spin, showing off a few features that should help the portable stand out among gamers and developers alike. One demo that triggered widespread oohs and aahs was of NGP’s augmented reality. Platform research manager David Coombes explained how “natural marker technology” within the device enables it to detect stationary objects and bring those to life on the screen. Coombes kicked it over to Tsutomu Horikawa, director of SCEI Software Solution Development, to show just how it works.

Horikawa first took aim at a PS3 box copy of Ape Escape, targeted the NGP at the front logo and created a dancing monkey directly on top of the box. Coombes then dialed up a slide showing a T-Rex video Sony used to demo the PSOne.

Horikawa aimed his NGP at an image of a T-Rex on an aisle floor and slowly panned the NGP upwards to reveal a full size T-Rex standing angrily (how else?) in the middle of the conference room. The video below, courtesy of IGN, provides a quick glimpse.

Along with showing off pretty features, Coombs provided some sobering facts on the power of the NGP. He stated that ot will be sport similar capabilities to that of a PS3, but cautioned against prior speculation that it would match the PS3. Although capable of 2GHz, the processor in NGP is scaled back because “the battery would last five minutes and would probably set fire to your pants.”

NGP will sport a 5-inch screen (vs. PSP’s 4.3 inch), include about half the resolution of a PS3 at 960×544 pixels and games will land between 2GB-4GB. Other important details such as price, retail availability, oh, and the actual name are still left unsettled.