Connected Objects Toys

DR!FT model cars brings Gran Turismo out of the screen and into your life

While motorsport is one of the most popular sports in the world, it doesn’t have much of a fanbase here in the US outside of NASCAR. Unrealistic portrayals of race cars as children aid the problem, with most model cars sold unable to capture the nuances of full-size racing vehicles. Change that, and the potential for a more engaged audience skyrockets.

Straight out of the home of heavyweights like BMW and Porsche, the DR!FT model race cars are the first toys to accurately replicate the many subtleties of motorsport-ready sports cars, all without any specialized track necessary. This means that DR!FT model cars perform with real racing dynamics that are true-to-scale, allowing them to accelerate realistically, reach a believable top speed, brake authentically, and even drift. It even comes complete with different engine sounds along with simulated brake and tire sounds. 

Connected Objects Toys

Arduino-based 3DRacer allows for 3D-printed racing

The rising popularity of electronics platforms like Raspberry Pi and Arduino, combined with the power of 3D printing, have added a new dimension to the racing toys of yesteryear.

The Arduino-based 3DRacer offers race junkies a bite-sized replica of the real thrill. Having designed their ride using the online 3DRacer tool, users can opt to print out the parts themselves, or have the company’s partner 3D Hubs print them instead. Once assembled, the pre-programmed Arduino board can be inserted to work in tandem with the companion smartphone app using a Bluetooth connection.

The included PVC mat makes any room in the home a racetrack, complete with app-controlled lap counter, pit stops, and a battle mode. Since everything is open source, more intrepid tinkerers have the option of creating an endless amount of cars, tuning the performance of each to suit their needs.

The product’s options seem unnecessarily complicated. The company would do well to simplify their offerings to appeal to a greater group of people. For youngsters, the product’s DIY nature may prove a little daunting, but it could end up being an effective stepping stone to light programming and robotics.

For $65, backers get their own customized car, and $129 throws in the track. The $25,000 campaign is slated to have the products out and shipped by September of this year.


Videogame racing meets real life in Real FX

The Premise. For many, no childhood was complete without either a quality remote-controlled car or a bulky, customizable slot car track. The thrill of speed and navigating twists and turns was irresistible to so many children, but the technology has done little to advance into the 21st century.

The Product. Real FX racing marries the competitive, constructed nature of slot car tracks with the freedom of motion and skill that remote control cars offer. With a pack of different track pieces, any number of courses can be created for the cars to drive along. Once ready, any number of racers can hit the track and compete using the special controllers. These controllers and the cars themselves are designed to simulate a more virtual racing experience in the real world, with cars that can drive themselves, programmable track hazards, and assisted steering. Using an optical sensor beneath the cars, each car tends to gravitate toward the center of the track to keep races competitive, but also allows the drive the freedom to steer as they like and attempt to pass cars or go for the best time.

The Pitch. The toy car enthusiasts over at Wow! Labs are happy to show off Real FX and what the different cars can do. Seeing real-life R/C cars driving themselves competitively around a customizable, unique track is enough to really capture that childlike magic of play, and all the other features that Real FX have to offer are all thick frosting on this exciting cake. Wow! Labs needs £50,000 in order for Real FX to qualify for its big race.

The Perks. A set with two cars and controllers with starter track pieces will ship out in October 2014 for £100. A third car can be added at the £130 level, while a more complex pro-racing track set starts at £150. The production pilot model will be ready in August for those willing to shell out £1,000 to hit the track a little faster.

The Potential. The execution for Real FX seems pot on, perfectly marrying the racing aspects of slot car with the freedom of movement provided by R/C. The controls seem comfortable and easy to use, and this could be fun for people of any age to get together and play. Though the computerized features of the cars are robust, the “video game” angle that Wow! Labs promotes is overshadowed by other similar items like Anki, which offers upgradeable performance and even weapons for the cars. Real FX offers a more pure race however, and the potential for new sets of track pieces or other upgrades in the future is promising for this racing system.