Technology
Skirmos makes futuristic laser tag more like modern warfare

The Premise. In the ’80s, children everywhere were promised that laser tag was the sport of the future. In a sense, that prediction proved true by the number of bachelor parties that involve the game, but aside from a few dedicated arenas and the occasional attempted revival of the home version, it remains criminally uncovered by ESPN.

The Product. In its current state, the Skirmos laser tag rifle looks kind of like an airsoft gun found in Tron. With clear plastic and smart-looking colored LEDs inside, it’s what faces the gun’s user that makes the Skirmos more than just a toy gun. Using Arduino, Skirmos is fully open-source and can be programmed to track any number of stats, create any amount of game modes, and customize the laser tag experience for all players. Inspired by first-prerson shooters like Halo and Call of Duty, the built-in LCD screen can display kills, health points, ammo, and even be used to mark capture points. Players can even design killstreaks that will incentivize tagging multiple opponents without being shot.

The Pitch.  The Skirmos team shows off the gun’s capability in both indoor and outdoor environments, and also shares some visions for what the platform could support after release.  Photos show off different LED colors, and even a sample of what programming for the Skirmos will be like. The project needs $60,000 for manufacturing and design. Additionally, multiple stretch goals are in place starting at muzzle flash LEDs and more game types at the $100,000 level. Later add-ons include force feedback, RGB LEDs, accelerometers, and smartphone integration.

The Perks. Pledging $99 will result in a single Skirmos rifle arriving around the same time as the holiday season, setting the stage for an arctic battle. Higher tiers are available mostly for ordering the guns in sets of two or four.

The Potential. Skirmos offers an alternative to other combat sports that has a comparatively low entry cost considering what it can do. The only cheaper alternative might be NERF, and while they have a similarly shaped model in the upcoming N-Strike Elite NERF Cam ECS-12 Blaster, the only feature that gun offers is a camera with superimposed cross-hairs and the option to record battles. Skirmos could be the thing that revives laser tag yet again and creates memorable get-togethers with friends, assuming they can be convinced to buy their own.

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