Thank you 202CV Inc. for making this amazing iOS app. InstaSaber is one of the coolest AR apps that I had a chance to review. This app turns an ordinary wrapped piece of paper into a virtual lightsaber weapon. Just keep in mind that it’s not an official Star Wars app.
The Lightsaber is the weapon of the Jedi from Star Wars. There was even an official Star Wars augmented reality app released not too long ago but it requires a physical Lightsaber toy and a headset. This app however only requires a piece of paper to let anyone experience the amazing feeling of holding a Saber sword in his hand.
It takes only a quick setup to make the AR magic happen. You can use the rear camera, the front camera or a mirror mode to make it work. You need to hold the wrapped paper in front of the camera, but further away so it can recognize the paper cone shape. If your hands are too short, you can use the mirror mode. In this mode, you stand in front of a mirror and point the camera towards the mirror.
That’s it, not all you need to do is have fun with your Saber sword. Now, there are some unique effects, but to use those you need to buy the premium app. The premium app allows you to change the Saber sound pitch, use a double-bladed Saber and choose the color of the light. I obviously upgrade to premium so I can share some footage with you.
Oh my god, I had so much fun with it. Trust me that I tell you that I am not one of Star Wars biggest fans. I even didn’t see the latest movie. It just amazing being able to just take a piece of paper and turn it into a beautiful looking Lightsaber. The sound is amazing, exactly like I remember it from the movie.
I salute for the developer who thought about this idea and made this idea come to life. I don’t know how I even missed it. The app works amazingly well, it’s not 100% accurate and losses tracking every now and then, but nothing that ruins the experience. This is the first gimmicky app that I actually enjoy using. Its main downside that it’s not compatible with Android and all Apple devices. It requires iOS 11.2 or later, at least according to the official app page on the App Store.
There is still room for improvement and the developer mentioned that he intends to improve it in future updates. I also found the sound to be a bit too shaky and need to be adjusted slightly. Just imagine if the developer would have released it as a Snapchat Lens, although I don’t think it’s even possible, I am not an app developer, so I don’t know if it’s possible or not.
There is also a built-in camera app to make it easier to capture photos with you and the Lightsaber in your hand.
So how come this experience work so well in AR?
Why this app is so much fun to use in AR? I am not an expert in the field, but let me try to explain why I think it works. It works because the virtual enhances the physical sensation and visual experience. It’s the same reason why MergeCube apps are so convincing, it works the same way. Holding something physical in your hand helps convey the physical sensation to the virtual which is an extension of the physical in this type of experience. It’s like it tricks the brain into believes that the virtual is actually something physical, especially if it moves in the three-dimensional space in the real world as projected by the camera on the mobile device’s display. I sensed the length of the Lightsaber, not just the handle, it felt like I am holding a long dual-wield Lightsaber, felt really good.
The experience of holding the Lightsaber felt very authentic and convincing. This is something that I haven’t had a chance to try out before and thanks to the developer who developed this app, I was able to do so. I’m still waiting for my MergeCube to arrive by the way.
The second reason why I like this app so much, it’s because it reminds me of Google Cardboard. It presents the “magic” of computer vision and augmented reality in a simple and accessible way. You don’t need to buy an expensive accessory everyone can experience with just a paper. This why it reminds me of Google Cardboard. With GC, Google allowed anyone to experience the “magic” of virtual reality (VR). You don’t need to buy an expensive headset, you just need a mobile device, which most people have.
Third, the tracking worked surprisingly well, even non-optimal lighting conditions. I was moving the paper very fast from side to side and rotate it, and it still was able to track is well and position the light very precisely on both sides of the paper with the dual-wield Lightsaber, impressive.
You know, I did a little test. My cat was in front of me. I moved the sword towards him, and I actually felt like the light part of the Lightsaber touched him. AR can really trick the mind, isn’t it?
There is no need to talk too much about it. If you have a compatible iPhone or iPad device and you like the idea, you must download it and try it out. A fantastic little app, I just love it!
Download InstaSaber from the App Store for free here.
P.S. imagine yourself this app as a mulltiplayer sword-fighing game for AR glasses. I know, it would be amazing!