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T-shirts come alive with augmented reality

Zappar and Hybrid Apparel are mixing it up with a new line of interactive T-shirts that contain games, animations, and other effects through AR.

Want to play a game? Aim your smartphone or tablet at me, and press to play my shirt. Screenshot by Christopher MacManus/CNET

Need to spruce up your wardrobe? When that "Bazinga!" T-shirt just will not cut it anymore, maybe some interactive augmented-reality attire could be for you.

Augmented-reality app specialist Zappar and private-label clothier Hybrid Apparel today announced a line of 20 T-shirts with Threadless-esque designs that come to life through AR. In the video below, we see an example of augmented-reality fashion via a T-shirt named "Mars Attacks." Using the free Zappar app (available for iOS and Android devices), a person using the iPad's touch screen and rear camera defeats a large robot projected on the T-shirt by zapping it with lasers. Not bad.

Check out video of other AR T-shirts at Zappar's Vimeo page. While some designs seem amusing, quite a few leave me wondering what the point of AR clothing is. The only way someone will see AR on these shirts is if the person has the Zappar app running on a smartphone or tablet.

Perhaps it would have been a better idea to add a caption near the picture that instructs people how to view it to increase the awesomeness level. Would you wear AR-infused clothes? My fellow CNET blogger Liane Yvkoff thinks that there should be "AR code for dating sites on clothes," which sounds like a very productive use of the technology.