InstaSaber AR App Turns Paper into a Lightsaber: An Interview with Creator Hart Woolery

Instasaber lightsaber
InstaSaber turns paper into a lightsaber (Image Credit: InstaSaber)

Got a piece of paper and an iPhone? Then you just might be able to make a lightsaber. InstaSaber, a free and popular augmented reality app for iOS, allows the user to project a lightsaber onto a simple rolled up piece of paper.

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InstaSaber creator Hart Woolery, launched the lightsaber app in early January 2018. Although InstaSaber is not affiliated with or endorsed by Disney, Woolery released the lightsaber app just weeks after the December 2017 premiere of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

SaberSourcing interviewed Hart Woolery, founder and CEO of the company 2020CV, about his creative lightsaber app.

How did you come up with the idea to create InstaSaber?
I was working on trying to predict 3d hand poses with neural networks (for a different application), and realized that the marker I was using would look cool if it had a virtual lightsaber coming out of it. I ended up building this app as something of a proof-of-concept for the technology I was working on.

Can you describe the most challenging part about about creating the app?
The application uses Convolutional Neural Networks (a form of deep learning) to predict the location and pose of the rolled up paper. It’s challenging to collect and annotate all the data required to train, as well as a challenge to get the model to run fast enough on a low-powered device.

Although InstaSaber is designed to turn a rolled up piece of paper into a lightsaber, other items can work as well. What are some of the strangest items that can be turned into a lightsaber?
I’ve got it to work with everything from bananas to shoes to TV remote controls. This video shows some examples:

InstaSaber App
InstaSaber vs Darth Vader at Disneyland (Image Credit: InstaSaber)

What’s your favorite reaction from someone seeing or using InstaSaber for the first time?
I love all the reaction videos I see on Twitter, Instagram, etc. Especially from parts of the world other than the US.
This one might be my favorite:
This one is also pretty good:

Do you have any stories about people using InstaSaber in a funny or unusual way?
Most people used it as intended, but it was kind of funny to see somebody in Japan use it to add special effects to a Gundam toy:

InstaSaber is currently only available in the App Store for iOS devices. Any plans to release an Android version?
I wouldn’t rule it out completely, but the performance in terms of sales of the iOS app did not justify porting it to Android. I’m just a one-person company so it takes a considerable investment of time/money to get these apps published. If Disney asks for a rebranded version some day, that might change.

What’s your favorite Star Wars lightsaber and why?
I wouldn’t say I have a favorite, but I grew up on the Original Trilogy, so I would go with Luke’s blue lightsaber from the Episodes IV and V (even though it predates those episodes)— I like both the style of the hilt and the color of the blade.

What’s next for you?
It’s not really related to lightsabers, but I’m currently working on an app that’s like Snapchat for dogs (and maybe cats soon). It places 3d masks on your dog, changes their voice, and moves their mouth as you speak. So if you love lightsabers *and* dogs, check out

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Find the FREE InstaSaber app in the App Store (iOS devices only)

InstaSaber Compatibility (iOS only) [UPDATED 9/20/2018]
Requires iOS 11.2 or later. Compatible with iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone SE, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR, 12.9-inch iPad Pro, 12.9-inch iPad Pro Wi-Fi + Cellular, 9.7-inch iPad Pro, 9.7-inch iPad Pro Wi-Fi + Cellular, iPad (5th generation), iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular (5th generation), 12.9-inch iPad Pro (2nd generation), 12.9-inch iPad Pro Wi‑Fi + Cellular (2nd generation), 10.5-inch iPad Pro, 10.5-inch iPad Pro Wi‑Fi + Cellular, iPad (6th generation), and iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular (6th generation).

2020CV official website

2020CV on Facebook

IMAGE CREDIT: Hart Woolery

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