The other day, I opened a box that arrived at my desk to find the weapon of a Jedi Knight. It’s not as clumsy or random as a blaster. It’s an elegant weapon … for a more civilized age.
Sadly, it wasn’t a real lightsaber, but rather a very decent approximation of the handle of Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber from the original Star Wars movie, as well as Lenovo’s new Mirage augmented-reality headset.
It was part of a Star Wars-themed bundle that Lenovo has released, right before the release of the latest Star Wars film, The Last Jedi, and the holiday shopping season. Included in the pack is the Bluetooth-enabled lightsaber, the AR headset, and a small tracking beacon that sits on the floor: Connect them all to a modern smartphone, and you can play the Star Wars “Jedi Challenges” game, developed by Lenovo and Disney. It’s a series of mini-games that use your phone’s screen and the headset’s cameras and sensors to overlay Star Wars characters and scenes for the wearer to battle against.
There are multiple levels and worlds to visit, including lightsaber fights against famous Star Wars characters like Darth Maul, Kylo Ren, and Darth Vader, as well as strategic games, like a version of chess and battle scenes from the films that you have to command as they unfold on the floor in front of you.
When you first strap on the headset, which requires some complicated setup trying to get your smartphone into on an odd cartridge that slides into the headset, you’re greeted by a trainer program that asks you to switch on your lightsaber. A blue beam appears in front of you out of the hilt you’re holding. You can wave it around as Luke himself would, and it even makes the iconic “whoosh” sounds as it moves through the air.
With the heavy headset strapped to my face, I felt like a young Luke Skywalker as he made his first steps into the wider world of the Force:
But in reality, I was just flailing around in the Quartz office with an AR headset on my face as my colleagues looked on with confusion (or shame) as a fully grown adult was playing with a toy lightsaber, tripping over furniture.
Ignoring my colleagues, I found the headset to be a lot of fun, if a bit difficult to see. But at $200, this will be a welcome gift for any young Star Wars fan with a smartphone this holiday season. Just make sure to give them a lot of space.