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Businesses Robotics Toys

Anki Is Not a Toy Company; Has iRobot, Others In Its Sights 19

waderoush writes "Anki gained instant fame as the robot-car company that launched at Apple's WWDC in June. Its iPhone-controlled racing game hit Apple stores in October, and the company is hoping it will be a holiday hit. But while Anki Drive offers offers a novel physical/virtual entertainment experience for kids and their gadget-loving parents, being a toy company 'is not our vision,' says co-founder and CEO Boris Sofman in this combined company profile and product review from Xconomy. Anki Drive is planned as the first in a series of new consumer-robotics products that are intensively AI-driven, as compared to the mechanically sophisticated but relatively instinctual or behavioral robots exemplified by iRobot's Roomba (which is probably the most successful consumer robot to date). The common characteristics of Anki's coming products, in Sofman's mind: 'Relatively simple and elegant hardware; incredibly complicated software; and Web and wireless connectivity to be able to continually expand the experience over time.'"
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Anki Is Not a Toy Company; Has iRobot, Others In Its Sights

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  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Saturday November 16, 2013 @02:15AM (#45441459) Homepage

    The Anki system is clever, but it's not as complex as it looks. The black track mat has bar codes visible in IR, and a sensor on the bottom of the car is reading vehicle position. The track has "lanes" invisible to the user but visible to the car. Left to itself, each car will stay in its lane. The phone does the gameplay part, ordering lane and speed changes, and getting position reports from the cars.

    It's a nice toy, but it's really a slot car for the 21st century.

    • Agreed, certainly not worthy of $200.
    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      but why not just play mario kart?

      the cars are 70 bucks, starter kit is 200 bucks. but they have a business plan going on there to make you pay for more cars, which differ only by the plastic and by the firmware unlocks.

      it's not really racing I suppose but choosing when to use your boosts mixed with pay to win, mixed with experience gained in the car itself(so you can't have an even fair game with an old car that has been played a lot with and a car someone just bought).

      it just doesn't seem like that neat of

    • I think you're missing the brilliance of the phone doing the gameplay part. They're building an AI stack for one of the most ubiquitous portable computing devices of our time. One that can be had for $200.

      Anki Drive performs real-time planning and control of multiple vehicles. It contends with dynamic obstacles (human drivers don't "stay in their lane") and relatively high speeds. These are non-trivial problems to solve, especially for objects with inertia and latency, and it's a first-step for more sop

  • I don't think I'm ready to have my experience expanded in this manner.
  • by lxs ( 131946 ) on Saturday November 16, 2013 @02:49AM (#45441531)

    Combined company profile and product review - check
    An entire article filled with uncritical praise - check
    Grandiose visions reported breathlessly - check

    I've clicked the "disable advertising" thingy but the story is still on the front page.

  • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Saturday November 16, 2013 @06:59AM (#45441985)

    Come on, I thought the suction of the competition would inspire a little more creativity.

    It's clear who ever makes the first good sexbot wins. Of course, it would precipitate the fall of civilization at a level Skynet could only wet dream of.

  • Never gets any attention.
  • by sackvillian ( 1476885 ) on Saturday November 16, 2013 @11:09AM (#45442705)
    Where's the love for the original Anki? []

    As free, open-source learning software (that I've loved for years), it seems right up Slashdot's alley. Except for the fact that this Anki didn't pay for slashvertising.

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling