Pantomime Could Be Your iPad Window Into Virtual Worlds

By Sean Hollister on at

Remember the amazing app that made your iPad practically invisible? The man who made it is back, and now he intends to tackle virtual reality with a new company — and app — called Pantomime.

Just like Invisibility, you start out by taking a picture of your tabletop, and the iPad mimics that surface as you move it around. But now, the iPad acts as a portal — and a controller — to interact with a virtual world. It's actually easier to show you how it works:

You can "walk" the iPad around your table, one corner at at time, and the virtual iPad will follow suit, or even pick it up in the air and keep walking... or just swipe and pinch to rotate your perspective. If you hold it up in the air, the app will even recognise where your hand is and give you a set of virtual fingers that you can "see" through the glass.

There's also a networked multiplayer mode for two people with different devices to virtually interact with one another:

I got to try out Pantomime at last week's Silicon Valley Virtual Reality meetup, where I spoke to creator (and VR industry veteran) David Levitt about what he plans to do with the tech. Right now, the app is limited to just the simple game of wallball you see above, but his ambition is much greater. Along with Don Hopkins, one of the original programmers on The Sims, Pantomime wants to create a social network where anyone with a mobile device can reach into a virtual world and interact with their friends.

It's important to him that they're devices people already own: "We think something like this is necessary for VR to catch on." Right now, it's looking like you'll need to buy a VR headset of some sort to get engrossed in virtual reality, as well as some sort of yet-to-be-realised controller to put your hands in the virtual world, but Pantomime's iPad app can do both at a fairly basic level.

Honestly, it's pretty janky right now, but it feels like a prototype of something pretty cool. I'm the kind of guy who'd pay for a headset and dive right in, but I could definitely see myself picking up a tablet, when I'm away from home, to check in on my friends. [Pantomime]