Very rarely in life do we get the opportunity to use a piece of technology for the first time and instantly know that it’s something that will have a massive impact on the future, however, hand on heart I can definitely say that the Anki Drive is something to watch out for. First shown at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in 2013, the team behind Anki Drive were hand picked to show what unknown developers can do with iOS. This in turn secured the company a massive $50 million venture funding (the technology is that ground breaking!).
It’s quite easy to draw comparisons between the Anki Drive system and a good old Scalextric set. They both use a track with toy cars for racing purposes, however, the Anki Drive system uses your iOS device to control the cars and even fire projectiles (albeit ones in virtual reality). Anki technology uses artificial intelligence programs to assist the robotic cars as they move around the track. If your car for some reason leaves the track area, then you will be notified through the Apple device you are using.
The app itself works flawlessly with the whole experience and connects to any cars you have turned on. Simply choose one of the 3 games available (Race, Battle and Practice), select a car from your garage (which can be levelled up by the way!) and off you go. If you want to play with friends or family then they will need their own Apple device to join in. Please note though that it needs to be a fairly new device in order to run the app, such or iPhone 4S or later, iPod Touch 5th Generation or later, iPad 3 or later and iPad mini or later.
When we received our Anki Drive Starter Pack, we were initially disappointed to find that the cars had no charge in them. We popped them into their housing station and plugged the USB charger into a main socket (which houses three micro USB cables to allow for multiple charging) and surprisingly the app showed us how long before your car is fully charged. It’s also worth mentioning that it only takes 2 minutes to fully charge the car’s battery, so for families with impatient little munchkins, this should be a big plus.
The clever part of the Anki Drive system is obviously the cars, which navigate the track using a small in-built camera. An on board micro-processor then tells the cars when to turn the corners and whether it’s going the right way. The artificial intelligence learns from each race and can be employed when you play against the computer A.I. In fact that’s where ‘Anki’ gets it’s name from, which in Japanese means “learn by heart”.
After playing with the various modes of Anki Drive, my family and I all agreed that it would be one of those excellent presents to unwrap and play with on Christmas day. I especially liked the fact that you could roll out the track in seconds for a quick play and then put it all back in the box for convenient storage out of the way.
The starter pack will set parents back anywhere from £150-£200, however, additional cars are not cheap at £50 a go. Whilst the technology is amazing, the pricing might well put off some customers, however, it may well be the toy of choice for those homes bursting with Apple devices in every room.