Google's Chromecast is a strange, and useful, piece of hardware, but it can do more than stream videos. With a little ingenuity, it can be used to create motion sensor based games that rival the Wii.
Chromecast is essentially a small Linux machine that connects to your WiFi and the back of a TV set and can stream a range of video and audio sources. You can control it via an Android device but, this is simply used to setup the connection to the stream source and then the Chromecast takes over.
For such a useful device, Google has been slow to make the improvements that would make it a super useful device. However, at this year's Google I/O a screen mirroring facility was announced. Essentially the Android device acts as the streaming source for the Chromecast and sends it the contents of its screen. Very handy if you want to do a public demo or just want to work on a big, big screen.
Going even further, Rolocule has been quick to implement its motion gaming technology by turning the Android device into a motion sensor.
We all know that an Android phone is dripping with sensors and could provide the hardware needed to implement a motion and position sensor that would mimic the behaviour of a Wiimote. This isn't a trivial task in that you need to use the accelerometers and magnetometers in combination to get position, orientation and movement. Even if you do solve this problem, however, you would have to implement a connection to another machine to run the game.
You can't run the game on the Android device because, given it is going to be in the player's hand as the controller, the screen is hardly likely to be visible. However, if you stream the screen's contents to a Chromecast connected to a TV set - problem solved.
Take a look at Motion Tennis on a Nexus 5 plus a Chromecast:
There is a bit of a controller lag, but Rolocule thinks it can make it faster and a public beta should be available soon. It also works with the Miracast dongle.
Does this open up Android as a console game platform?
What it probably does mean is a lot more Androids are going to be thrown across rooms.
Microsoft Research does some interesting work in computational photography and has just released a new version of Image Composition Editor, a tool that can stitch photos together in amazing ways. [ ... ]