Anki Attempts to Make Real World Video Games Possible
Apple’s much awaited and equally hyped flagship developers’ event, WWDC, concluded a few hours ago. Apart from usual updates on iOS, Mac OS X and Mac Pro, an interesting new project was demostrated at the event. Called Anki Drive, it is an iOS app that allows users to play car racing games using real cars (miniature-size, of course). Anki Drive converts your Apple iDevice into a handheld remote control for your little bot car, which frequently sends location data back to the app.
Anki, the company behind Anki Drive, are “aiming to bring Artificial Technology into people’s everyday lives.” The project was started way back in 2007 when a bunch of tech geeks from Carnegie Mellon University gathered around a restaurant table to discuss the possibility of bringing AI out of robotics labs to the general users. The possibilities are certainly endless, and it would be very interesting to see how this technology evolves. Playing real-world car simulators is, no matter how much fun, just a first step toward something big and more useful. Who knows player-controlled robot boxing is not as distant in future as it seems? Real Steel, anyone?
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The first manifestation of that “something” is Anki Drive. We gave our very first sneak peek of Anki Drive today. At first glance, it’s a racing game that pits real cars against players and each other – but after playing for a few minutes, you’ll see what makes Anki Drive special: We are making the first video games in the real world, and our team has worked tirelessly on the robotics and AI challenges that this presents. Each car is equipped with sensors and intelligent software to make thousands of decisions every second. We use mobile devices not as remote controls, but as drivers for an immersive real-world experience. And we took great care to make sure that despite everything under the hood, the final experience is intuitive and entertaining.
Unfortunately, Anki Drive will only be available on iOS for now. We really hope to see an Android version in near future, as that would truly make such an exciting technology available to a wider audience.
The app itself isn’t available for download yet, but in its place a getting started guide has been made available through which users can learn more about the cars and behind-the-scene technologies that went into making Anki Drive. Users can also sign-up for an early access invitation. Anki Drive is expected to arrive in store this fall, and will be compatible with all Apple devices running iOS 6 or greater. Note that cars will be sold separately.