I have a thing for meaningful connected objects. So, it’s only natural that I wish to share my passion for them on this blog. For my first post here on connected objects, I introduce the smart racing cars of Anki Drive. I selected Anki Drive for three reasons:
- Connected objects are not just to smarten up your home or to motivate you to be more active.
- I think that Anki Drive represents the future of car racing game.
- My husband, my toddler and I had a blast at the Anki Drive event at the Apple store in Montreal last week.
The old-fashioned slot car racing still hold a little bit of their magic but they feel short when it comes to user experience. Over the years, video games have accustomed us to much more. This is why I was thrilled when my husband first talked to me about Anki Drive. Bridging digital technology with physical objects would deliver the most of both world. From what I experienced so far, Anki Drive has a good head start.
The ability to have a car that fits my driving / playing style is what won me to Anki Drive.
Technically, Anki Drive adds a new level to the toy racing car by bringing artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics to an actual (meaning physical) car racing set. The makers of Drive bring to life elements from video games and remove the need for slots on the race track. Overall, Anki Drive elevates the slot car race to a new height by making the cars and the track smarter and better.
One benefit is that the cars know your every move and can adapt to what you do. This creates many ramifications and new opportunities in the game. Up to 4 smart cars can race on a 3½’ x 8 ½’ vinyl embedded with tiny sensors track. When you are ready to play, the installation is fast and easy. You simply need to roll out the track on the floor or a table. The car battery is fully charged in 8 minutes. Each player uses his iPhone or iPad to control his car and run the game. Cars without players are controlled by the AI. The Anki Drive app lets you host a game, play a game, track the results and upgrade your car.
Like the iPhone or the iPad, the Anki Drive cars are designed to be a personal device. Each player gets its own software upgradable car. Each of the 4 available cars has a different personality. Each car comes with their own handling skills and weapons. As you gain experience and points, your car becomes more and more tailored to you due to your playing and upgrades. All upgrades that you do to your car stay with the car indefinitely. You can’t go back. As I learned it, choose your car and upgrades wisely.
The ability to have a car that fits my driving / playing style is what won me to Anki Drive. It is what makes the game unique. Until I switched to Katal (the blue car with an aggressive defender personality), I was terrible at the game. I needed more shields if I expect to win. It was obvious that the yellow, agile striker Kourai didn’t fit my skills. When I drove Kourai, I had to adapt to the machine instead of the machine working for me. Luckily for me, I didn’t wait long to switch to a car that suits the way I play the game.
Because of their AI, the cars can drive themselves. This features comes handy to practice how to outsmart your opponents when you are by yourself, or to play against more competitors when you have less players than cars. Naturally, the more cars are on the track, the more interactions will happen on the track.
At the moment, you can only play in the fun, strategic battle mode. Whoever is the first to disable the opponents a set a number of times wins. Anki plans to add more ways to play the game in the future, including a pure racing mode. If their startup goes well, they would like to add track accessories and other ways to modify the circuit. In theory, our race set should evolve over time. As a consumer, this evolutionary capability makes connected objects, like these, even more appealing.
Lastly, I want to mention that Anki Drive is fun for all the family. My 2-and-a-half-year old son is able to play without our help. He might not win against my husband, but he regularly scores points by disabling cars. For the record, my son beat me once when I drove Kourai. Now, you know why I switched car.