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I, Robin Hood: Bowblade does archery the iOS way

A new high-tech bow mixes in some low-tech features to try to give people exercise and gaming at the same time.

The Bowblade is like a real bow and arrow, except it uses a trigger hooked up to a touchscreen stylus.
The Bowblade is like a real bow and arrow, except it uses a trigger hooked up to a touchscreen stylus. Josh Lowensohn/CNET

SAN FRANCISCO -- Amid the sea of screen covers, phone cases, battery packs and software hawkers at Macworld's iWorld conference there was a strange sight: archery.

No, there weren't actual arrows flying around San Francisco's Moscone Center. Instead, it was people squinting down the crosshairs of a bow hooked up to an iPod Touch, pulling back a real string in the hopes of nailing virtual targets.

The device, called the Bowblade, is a $185 peripheral, designed by a chiropractor named Ron Green. It's designed as both an exercise tool and gaming rig, though how it works as the latter is a bit questionable.

At its most basic, the device requires users to pull back as if they were using a regular bow. But when playing touchscreen games on iOS, of which 35 currently work with the setup, users are actually pulling something akin to a gun trigger that's attached to a rather rudimentary capacitive stylus tip, simulating a finger touch to the screen.

Sighting in.
Sighting in. Josh Lowensohn/CNET

With games that make use of the accelerometer and gyroscope, this can actually more closely simulate the feeling of hunting something and enhancing that feeling, though it does little to change the general dynamics of games. That could change if developers make specialty games designed just for it.

Along with the iPhones and iPods, the rig can also be adjusted to work with Android devices and Nintendo's Wii. The company is also striving to get it set up for console systems like the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.