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

timothy posted about 10 months ago | from the get-outta-the-way dept.

Businesses 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 clever but simpler than it looks (5, Informative)

Animats (122034) | about 10 months ago | (#45441459)

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.

Re:Anki is clever but simpler than it looks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45441593)

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.

Every magic act is simpler than it looks, but you're missing the point.

Re: Anki is clever but simpler than it looks (1)

iamhassi (659463) | about 10 months ago | (#45441635)

Agreed, certainly not worthy of $200.

Re:Anki is clever but simpler than it looks (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 10 months ago | (#45441643)

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 a toy to be honest.

frankly it would be more fun if the codes on track were only used for power pickups and enforcing track area rules and if you controlled it yourself, now its like racing for retards.

Re:Anki is clever but simpler than it looks (2)

Xerotope (777662) | about 10 months ago | (#45442871)

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 sophisticated platforms.

Once you have planning and control, you can start thinking about adding sensors for obstacle detection. And since the customer supplies the computing, it's a relatively cheap upgrade.

So I'm interested in seeing what they do next, and whether they can move beyond toys and entertainment.

Web connected robots in the home? (1)

John.Banister (1291556) | about 10 months ago | (#45441517)

I don't think I'm ready to have my experience expanded in this manner.

If it looks like an ad and reads like an ad... (4, Informative)

lxs (131946) | about 10 months ago | (#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.

Re: If it looks like an ad and reads like an ad... (1, Offtopic)

iamhassi (659463) | about 10 months ago | (#45441639)

Well you could always let them know how you feel by downloading their app and giving it horrible reviews...

Re: If it looks like an ad and reads like an ad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45441957)

Or you could short their stock.

Re: If it looks like an ad and reads like an ad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45443971)

GP's beef is with xconomy.com, not anki.com. Seems really unfair to fabricate complaints about Anki Drive, which should be reviewed on its own merits or not at all, regardless of whether xconomy.com did so.

definitely NOT a toy company (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45441669)

It's an incredibly-complicated-toy company!!!!!!!!!!! BECAUSE WE SAY SO, now give us your money.

Vacuums and stuff? (2)

rolfwind (528248) | about 10 months ago | (#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.

Re:Vacuums and stuff? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45443103)

Sexbots will only be available to the rich. The poor will continue to breed like rabbits, as the rich continue to dwindle in numbers (as both already do today).

Civilization will not fall, but a bloody redistribution of wealth might happen again.

funiture (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45441999)

i read this as ikea

Anki? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45442201)

Blimey, and I've just been using it for my Chinese flashcards...

anki is so fucking corny (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45442279)

that stupid race car demo at that apple event made me cringe so hard.

Poor Neato (1)

lexman098 (1983842) | about 10 months ago | (#45442619)

Never gets any attention.

That's right, it's FOSS (2)

sackvillian (1476885) | about 10 months ago | (#45442705)

Where's the love for the original Anki? [ankisrs.net]

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.

Re:That's right, it's FOSS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45443673)

Yeah I thought of the same thing. Besides being open source or whatever - it was around first.

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