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'Battleship'-style 'GlassBattle' shows gaming potential of Google Glass

Ever want to play a game of "Battleship" while still managing to take a trip to the grocery store? Soon Google Glass owners could be able to.
Ever want to play a game of "Battleship" while still managing to take a trip to the grocery store? Soon Google Glass owners could be able to.

Now that Google is diving head-first into the weird world of wearable computing, and is fueling a nascent app ecosystem around Google Glass, you soon may be able to play games like "Battleship" with your friends while you go about your daily activities.

A new demo from third-party Glass developer BrickSimple shows how a "Battleship"-style game, "GlassBattle," could work, running continuously in the periphery of a Glass user's vision. Players fire at their opponents' ships by calling out grid positions on a gameboard that hovers in the upper-right corner of their vision. The moves are then registered by opposing players' Glass in real time. If there's a hit, both parties find out immediately.

Just imagine walking through the grocery store and overhearing someone muttering, "You sank my battleship!" That may sound silly, but is it any more annoying than talking to people who glance down at their smartphone screens to make moves in "Words with Friends" or "Draw Something" every few minutes?

"GlassBattle" is more a proof of concept than anything else at this point. The game runs entirely off Glass's Mirror API, which till now has mostly been used to push text and images to Glass users with what Google calls "timeline cards."

When it comes to synchronous interactions between several Glass users, such as playing a game together, these "cards" can feel pretty static. Eventually, Google will need to provide a richer API for Glass developers if it wants to see full-blown games appear on the device — something it already hinted at doing at the Google I/O conference this May. As BrickSimple explains in its demo video, the developers had to "push everything that Mirror does and make it do something cool."

Gamers are still a ways away from playing a true augmented-reality version of, say, "Battlefield" (though that hasn't stopped them from dreaming about it). But as Matt Miesnieks of the AR startup Dekko told NBC News in May, Google Glass is the first product that's proved truly "exciting" for developers like him.

Yannick LeJacq is a contributing writer for NBC News who has also covered technology and games for Kill Screen, The Wall Street Journal and The Atlantic. You can follow him on Twitter at @YannickLeJacq and reach him by email at: ylejacq@gmail.com.