Racing video games continue to evolve to such a level where the graphics are starting to look like the real thing. You then wonder what\'s next. The popular Gran Turismo series of Polyphony Digital, for instance, is already getting ready to release its sixth installment. What does this latest version have to offer that gamers haven\'t tried yet? Whatever it is, video games will still always be confined within the four corners of a high-definition screen.
Enter a company called Anki, a San Francisco-based tech start-up whose mantra is to \"bring artificial intelligence and consumer robotics to our everyday lives.\" It was supposedly founded just three years ago by Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute graduates \"who sought to create new consumer experiences using technology that was once confined to robotic labs and research institutes.\"
The company\'s very first product is a highly interactive game called Anki Drive, which will hit Apple Stores in North America on October 23. Anki boasts that its game is a \"racing game like no other, using artificial intelligence and robotics to take the best of video games and combine it with the best of physical games. It\'s a video game in the real world. It\'s real. It\'s tangible. You hold the cars in your hand, and the track rolls out on your living-room floor.\"
In a nutshell, Anki Drive involves controlling toy race cars via a handheld iOS device. While Anki says the game will work with basically any Apple gadget that has wireless connectivity, it also notes that the game is \"best experienced on an iPhone.\" You just buy the actual starter kit and download the Anki Drive app from the App Store, and you\'re good to go. Needless to say, this game was designed with Apple users in mind (sorry, Android fans).
There are four race cars available for now--Boson, Kourai, Rho and Katal--two of which come standard with the starter kit. The cars differ in terms of characteristics, strengths and weaknesses:
* Boson uses speed, handling and smarts to figure out the best way to hit its target. With its Gravity Beam upgrade, Boson forces opponents where they least want to be: directly in its line of fire.
* If you fire at Kourai, you better not miss. With a deadly blend of speed, weapons and defenses, Kourai is ready for action. When upgraded, it can shield itself from Tractor Beams, leaving pursuers far behind.
* Meet Rho, the ultimate defender. When upgraded, Rho\'s shields use less energy, helping it withstand an intense barrage of enemy fire. Rho has the tenacity and staying power to make sure it\'s the last car on the track.
* The stronger the opponent, the better Katal is at taking them out. Katal is loaded with a supercharged energy system. When upgraded, its shields evolve into a powerful weapon that reflects opponents\' attacks back at them.
On a real-world scale, Anki claims the cars travel at 250mph, or an incredible 400kph--faster than a Formula 1 car. You get the idea more or less. But to better understand what the game is all about, watch the two videos at the bottom of this post, then tell us if this looks exciting and challenging enough for you. If it doesn\'t, at least you\'ll know what the kids mean when they ask for those \"cool Anki Drive cars\" for Christmas.
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