x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

First, set a high score. Next, throw your phone in water

Video game helps people to learn about new smartphone.

Denis Kruger, from Dubai firm pIxelbug, takes a look at the virtual reality game for a waterproof phone. Lee Hoagland/The National.
Denis Kruger, from Dubai firm pIxelbug, takes a look at the virtual reality game for a waterproof phone. Lee Hoagland/The National.

DUBAI // Shoppers waving their hands in the air and grasping for imaginary objects while squealing with pleasure attracted more than a few strange looks this week.

Even more so when they started throwing smartphones in a bucket of water.

The unusual activity was sparked by a video game developed by a Dubai technology company, pixelbug.

Augmented reality technology - seen by many as the future of computer gaming - uses a camera to record an environment, then projects digital images on top.

Players see virtual objects visible only to them moving around their real surroundings - prompting the shoppers' waving as they played using a newly developed waterproof smartphone as a controller.

At the end they had to drop the phone into water, which sent their scores to a leaderboard. The player with the highest score each day won a tablet computer.

Dany El Eid, founder and managing partner at pixelbug, said about 300 people had playeddaily since the demonstration opened at Mall of the Emirates last Wednesday.

Elie Youssef, another managing partner, said: "It wasn't just professional gamers playing, it was people from all walks of life because the game relied a lot of luck as well as skill.

"We had a Saudi woman win one day and a completely different person the next.

"It was amazing how competitive everyone was - they kept coming back to make sure they still had the highest scores."

Pixelbug specialises in augmented reality apps for smartphones and tablets and has been nominated for AME Info's Startup of the Year Award 2013.

Unfortunately for those who became hooked on the game, there are no plans to release it. "This isn't an android app that will be available for the public," Mr El Eid said.

halbustani@thenational.ae