Back in December I wrote about the ePawn Arena, a digital screen with some very nifty features that will allow for some pretty cool board game possibilities. Over the weekend I came across this video the team posted, showing a couple of miniature bots being controlled by the Arena.
When I talked to them in December, they described a concept like this: imagine having a chess app on your iPhone, and hooking it up to your Arena board with little bot chess pieces. You physically move a chess piece on the board, and the Arena sends that move to your iPhone chess app. Your friend somewhere else in the world has their own iPhone/Arena set up, and when you make your move, the corresponding chess piece on their board moves along automatically to the correct place. At the time, I figured that was still a long ways off — after all, the Arena isn’t even available yet and it’ll be a while before developers really start to create apps that can use it. So it’s pretty cool to see this proof-of-concept video, and I’m excited to see what else they’ve got in store.
Of course, the chess scenario is hardly the most exciting use of the Arena, and probably not really necessary. You could just as easily (or more easily) play chess on a screen, without the pieces. But imagine running a D&D campaign remotely, and being able to move a monster around on a board, your players watching as it rounds the corner and waiting to see who it’s going to attack. Granted, the robots will need to get much smaller, and I can’t imagine they’ll be so cheap that you can buy a ton of them for a while … but if you’re a game developer you should start dreaming now. When the Arena becomes available (planned release is the second half of this year), I want to have some amazing games to play on it!
Update: Christophe Duteil from ePawn just sent me links to these two other videos, taken at the Innorobo European Summit: