Thursday, 19 July 2012

When Will this Plastic Film Revolutionise my Gaming Experience?

Unless you've been hiding in a deep dark cave for the past couple of years you can't have failed to notice the advances that have been made in Virtual Table Top technologies.  Microsoft captured peoples imaginations a while back when they demo'd their Surface project.  Since then there's been an explosion in VTT software offerings from the likes of Battlegrounds, Fantasygrounds, Maptool and a host of others (far too long a list for this article but this wiki has them all) but the display technology has been lagging behind a bit.

For me the VTT has always been about the marriage of old school play with new technology.  It's no good having a great bit of software if you have to carry a 50 inch LCD screen around with you when you want to play.  Likewise I don't really want to push virtual miniatures around on the screen I want real ones which interact with the display.

Cambridge based research lab, Plastic Logic, is aiming to produce its flexible plastic display in their Dresden factory sometime in 2013.  This display meets half of my needs in that it is incredibly robust as demonstrated in this video, but it really needs multi-touch or RFID to be a success.

As the iPad has demonstrated, people aren't content with just watching their display anymore, they want to touch it, and the real market for this type of display is to be an inexpensive e-reader capable of displaying your daily newspaper.  I for one will quite happily jump on that bandwagon when it arrives.  Once they've successfully integrated the multi-touch capabilities into the plastic film (which shouldn't be that far away) you really would have limitless potential for the display to be used as a portable VTT.

In the meantime I guess I'll have to satisfy myself with Dungeon Mapp Lite, my iPad and a good quality screen protector.

Dungeon Mapp Lite on the iPad
Dungeon Mapp Lite on iPad

P.S. For a more indepth look at the technology, watch as BBC's Spencer Kelly gets to look inside the lab to see how Plastic Logic's flexible display is made.

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