It’s not always easy to rope your friends and family into playing games of chess with you, and so you probably find yourself playing chess video games on your computer against the AI or people online. Unfortunately, that’s not nearly as satisfying as actually moving your pawns and knights around a real, physical board with your hands. As good as modern chess video games are, they just can’t match the tangible feel of a real board. That’s why InfiVention Technologies has developed a pair of automated, AI-controlled robotic boards to play chess and other games.
InfiVention Technologies is launching two of these robotic boards through a Kickstarter campaign that is ending in just seven days. The campaign has already reached nearly 10 times the original funding goal. Both boards are capable of automatically moving pieces around using a hidden robotic magnet mechanism. They also both have a built-in artificial intelligence that you can play games against, or use as a coach to improve your strategies. Through the app, you can connect with other players around the world and play against them. When they make a move, their piece on your board will automatically move to the correct square.
You can back the campaign to get either the Square Off Neo or the Swap. The Neo board is just for chess, while the Swap can also be used to play additional games, including checkers, halma, connect 4, and draughts. The Swap board can also move pieces to “parking spots” after they have been captured. The Swap board has a nice NeoPixel LED indicator, while the Neo only has a buzzer. Both are capable of playing chess variants and special chess puzzles. A unique live streaming feature lets you watch games in real time that are being played by others in the world.
Both boards are controlled by an Arm Cortex-M0 microcontroller, and connect to your phone via Bluetooth Low Energy 4.2. The Swap has a built-in rechargeable battery, while the Neo must be plugged in to use. The final stretch goal, which the campaign is close to reaching, will add a rechargeable battery to the Neo as well. The Neo comes in wood, ebony, and stone finishes, and the Swap has a nice brushed metal finish.
If you want either the Neo or Swap (or both!), the Kickstarter campaign will be running until November 21st. Early Birds can get the Neo for $129 or the Swap for $169. Super early birds can get both boards for $269. Rewards are expected to be delivered in June of 2020.