Anki Drive is the iPhone-controlled Scalextric from the future: Playtime at the Tech Tavern
Of all the things being shown at the Pocket-lint Tech Tavern this week, Anki Drive perhaps regressed us to giggle like kids the most. It's easy to see why, just look at the bullet points: track racing, robot cars, Batmobile designer, iOS control, AI opponents, and battle modes. Forget your Scalextrics and TCRs, this is the future of toy track racing. And it's here now.
The basic set-up is simple. Rather than require hours of track laying and preparation, Anki Drive uses a playmate that goes down quicker than a cold MeanTime on a hot day.
The starter kit comes with two cars, which can be controlled by either human opponents or, and this is the killer, computer operated. This is because rather than use analogue paddles, the cars are controlled through an iOS app - for iPhone 4S and above, iPod touch fifth generation and above and iPad mini and above. Each player can use their smartphone, media player or tablet to play, but even when alone a device will take on all duties with the wee vehicles.
The cars were designed by Harald Belker, who is the artistic brains behind the 1996 Batmobile and a stack of other movie vehicles. And each has individual characteristics. One is lighter, for example, so can go faster, but is perhaps worse at sticking to the track.
As well as standard racing, the Anki Drive system adds elements of videogame-style gameplay. Some of the game modes include battles, with cars shooting each other in order to win. They can even be immobilised by a cunning shot, causing frustration for foes and, often, the sudden expulsion of naughty words.
As well as the standard kit, additional cars can be added to the mix. Or, say a friend has the full kit, you can buy just one car of your own to take round when you visit. Each additional car costs £49.99, with the main set costing £179.99 for the mat and two cars, plus charging stations.
In our hands-on session, we had a great laugh, and while we didn't win our first battle mode, just taking part was reward enough. And if you believe that, you'll believe anything.
Losing aside though, we're big fans of Anki Drive and can see it really taking off over the next few months. It's available now.
If you fancy popping down to the Pocket-lint Tech Tavern to try out other gadgets and cool kit, we're based at The Fable in London's Holborn each day until Friday 20 June from 12-4pm.