Anki Drive, a race-car gaming experience that briefly took center stage during Apple's keynote presentation at the Worldwide Developer's Conference in June, is finally making its way to retail stores.
The concept from robotics company Anki allows users to race intelligent cars around a printed-out track, controlled via an app. As users drive the vehicles, they can launch special effects and virtual ammo and shields against opponents like they would in a video game.
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Anki's racing game lands exclusively in Apple stores on Oct. 23 and will also be available via Anki.com. The Anki Drive base kit ($199) comes with a race track and two cars: Kourai, the yellow character, and Boson, the silver character. It also includes chargers, tire cleaner and housing cases for the vehicles. Additional cars are $69 each.
After downloading the free iOS Anki Drive app and connecting the character cars to the rollable racing track via Bluetooth, you place the vehicles on the map and set up a battle with a friend (or friends) or against the game itself.
You can use virtual guns against opponents as they drive by, giving the sense of a video game but in physical form. The app plays sounds from screeching tires to shooting noises to bring the virtual world to life even more. When you've been shot by an opposing car, you'll feel it directly via the app via a vibration.
"We wanted to program video games on top of physical characters in the real world," Anki co-founder Boris Sofman told Mashable. "They understand where they are when you place them on the map, and it's not just that we can control the characters, but you can feel the interaction between them. There are virtual elements you wouldn't be able to have in the physical world and now you can."
One of the most interesting parts of the concept is how the car characters can be controlled by the artificial intelligence of the game, so you can play against the computer. Cars are programmed with different personalities too some can be showboat-y when they win a race, while others can be more defensive instead of offensive while racing.
The cars were designed with the help of by Harald Belker, a Hollywood designer behind car designs such as the Batmobile in Batman and Robin and vehicles in Minority Report and Tron: Legacy.
"We wanted them to be beautiful and something people of all ages could really enjoy, from teens to older adults," Sofman said.
Even though it is a physical product, the company said it will be rolling out software updates over time so buyers won't need to invest in new hardware anytime soon.
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