Friday, February 10, 2012

TagFerret: Lazer Tag details

TagFerret, one of the developers for the Lazer Tag system I've been so fervently covering, has finally shed some light on information concerning the next wave of blasters!  Here's what he had to say about all the questions spinning around this and BOY am I happy!
Are the images accurate? Yes, very. A couple of very minor details might change as the tools get groomed in but this is pretty much the exact production design. The photos are all of Taggers which were made from the production molds within the last couple of weeks.

LTTO Compatible? 100% including Hosted, LTAG, and LTX grab-and-go teams games. Even has some enhancements in the LTTO Hosted games mode.

Lock-On IFF? Yes. 2 modes, backwards-compatible LTTO style and with special new enhancements.

iPhone required? No. You need one to host the new games, but it will join the new games without one. We're settling into the final code for masking right now and trying to see what we can do to make it join LTTO games without an iPhone as well -- the prototypes actually do this already but the interface is totally clunky. We have to make it better before we will be willing to release it to the public.

Iron sights -- yes, and on the top of the blaster where they belong. In addition to the little hole in the iPhone holder, the entire iPhone holder ("cradle") can be replaced with a fixed iron sight. The cradle does not fold down BTW, the hinges are for opening the cradle to insert/remove the iPhone.

Aiming with iPhone: The camera gives a "gun camera" view with crosshairs. The total parallax is about 2 inches maximum so that beyond ranges of about 10 feet it is spot on (and at closer ranges the splatter will probably be enough to get the hits anyway).

Different models of iDevice: iPhone 3, 3GS, 4, 4S, and iPod Touch with camera for the first generation Tagger being released this year. All fit extremely well and are very well protected from damage in the cradle. Next year we add Android support as well.

Accessories: None in the traditional sense, the iDevice performs the accessory functions. Firing rates, burst sizes, shot damage, clip size, reload time, etc can all be configured through the iDevice.

Reload lever: Yes. Also press-and-hold to toggle between semi-auto and full-auto.

IR Range: Slightly better than LTTO pistols but very comparable. The updated receiver design is even better at sunlight rejection than the LTTO was so it takes hits from a slightly longer range in bright sunlight. Transmit optics and IRLED are the same as LTTO. Lock-on and hit confirmations now work to the full tagging range thanks to more-powerful dome IRLEDs.

We plan to have an SDK for people to write their own games and scoring routines for the smart phone, and I will soon publish the basic communications formats for anyone who wants to make their own LCD or LED display devices so that they don't need a smart phone.

And in terms of all the other speculations and wish lists: The main word for this development project was "flexibility" -- absolutely every aspect of what the Tagger can do, sense, detect, process, or whatever is available to the Smart Device. It is also configurable and controllable by the Smart Device. The only thing you cannot change are the actual IR signatures. But which ones you generate, how you react to them, and so on are 100% controllable by the Smart Device IF YOU WANT THEM TO BE. If you don't, you just let the Tagger deal with them in the normal manner. Thus, with a Smart Device you could easily do a Fern Head type game where the Taggers automatically resurrect on the other team once tagged out, and so on. Many functions once set by the Smart Device remain active even after the Smart Device is removed, so doing set-up with the device and then removing it for the game is quite possible. The Host also needs the device to assist with debriefing and scoring so the device would need to be attached to the host at the end of the game.

The communications interface and protocol is pretty straightforward for someone with electronics and PIC programming experience (Doug!). The physical connector is very common and does not require precise alignment, unlike the LTX interface.

-- TagFerret


  1. Awesome information. It sounds way fun. It's awesome that you got hooked up with the info the way you did.

  2. Best thing would be a Lazer tag screen display of their own, I'd love to get a load but couldn't get say 10 I phones to go with it