Garnet Hertz's OutRun project seeks to combine the real world with Sega's seminal racing game by converting the 1986 sit-down arcade cabinet, which was modeled after a 1984 Ferrari Testarossa, into a small, drivable car with a max speed of 20 miles per hour.

Hertz, a contemporary artist and Media Design Program faculty member at Pasadena's Art Center College of Design, plans to install motors, wheels, and other components from an electric scooter (EVT America Electric Trike) into the cabinet. An iPhone3G application will use custom-built software and GPS sensors to calculate the vehicle's location, then render and output a map onto the machine's screen in the style of OutRun.

The iPhone's accelerometer will sense the car's accelerating and turning, signaling the app to proportionally change the display. This doesn't sound very safe! The artist admits, "Although the screen will mimic the real world around [the vehicle], it is expected that the GPS map data and the real world will not match perfectly... As a workaround, the system will be operated in somewhat controlled environments and have a relatively low speed."

Hertz says the project is motivated by two concepts:

  • Un-Simulation of Driving - "This project un-simulates the driving component of a videogame. Driving game simulations strive to be increasingly realistic, but this realism is usually focused on graphical representations. Instead, this system pursues "real" driving through a videogame as its primary goal."
  • GPS Navigation Parallax & Mixed Reality - "Driving with a GPS navigation system can be game-like. This project explores the consequences of only using GPS map data as a navigation tool for driving. The windshield of this project's vehicle only shows GPS data, and as a result, driving it in the real world is often difficult or dangerous. As a result, this project explores and investigates how GPS data differs from the physical world, and what happens when an augmentation of reality envelops and obfuscates reality"

OutRun Computer Vision - Walking Test 1:

He also says that the game could eventually see a release to the public for iPhone 3G owners to play "a lite version" on their own handsets while walking or driving around -- of course, Sega would probably have to first allow this, considering the project uses its graphics, audio, etc.

You can read more about the project and see concept photos on Hertz's site.

[Via Game Scenes]