This augmented-reality tattoo will let us play Sonic the Hedgehog.
Olo Sabandija took to Twitter to share his incredible computer-generated “key code” tattoo to play the game. Sabandija made it using Unity, the open-source programming suite many popular video games also use.
His AR tattoo doesn’t just look good, it is fully functioning ink, allowing you to “play” a rudimentary version of Sonic. (* Fully functioning, in that as for now, Sabandija can only make Sonic jump. But still, incredibly cool.)
The way it works is that his real tattoo, the NES controller, serves as a marker that the augmented reality program recognizes. It then uses the real one to generate the AR tattoo’s video and images.
Sabandija describes himself as “a hardcore SEGA fan back in the day.”
This is why he decided he wanted his tattoo to be interactive. “While my first choice was a Genesis controller, sadly, using only straight lines took away its essence,” he said. “I found no reasonable way to draw a Genesis controller in the style needed for the marker, so I went with the second choice. The NES controller is iconic by now, and also made out of straight lines. I actually made it out of several squares so the lines would be at the same distance from each other at all places.”
Sabandija added, “Also I have very fond memories of me and my cousins carefully deciding which cartridge to rent for the weekend, because we could only afford one. Sometimes we picked a good game, sometimes not.”
Sabandija spoke a bit about how he designed it, as well as the problems he had to deal with.
“The hardest part was finding something that was meaningful enough to me to become a permanent image on my skin, but also something that could be easily recognized by the AR engine. So it had to be made of straight lines with sharp edges and very high contrast,” Sabandija said.
“I made several designs that worked fine on paper, but failed when temporarily transferred to my skin until I started going down to basic shapes. It seems to be easier for the app to track basic shapes.”
As far as his plans to make it fully playable, Sabandija said that he learned the basics of Unity within a month.
“In theory I can make a playable game, but I’m still several online tutorials away from that, and it would need to be a game like Arkanoid or Space Invaders, where you only move side to side and maybe down,” he said. “I can make all sides of the D-pad interactive, but activating only the up part without also triggering the sides would make most games unplayable.”
But even just making Sonic jump is incredible. The only thing we can do with a regular tattoo is make it dance when we flex.