Your living room is the next battleground. Reach Robotics is launching its MekaMon augmented reality gaming robots today.
The Bristol, United Kingdom-based company has created app-driven robots that can battle in both the physical and digital worlds. It’s one more marriage of digital and physical games that bring toys to life.
MekaMon comes from a startup created by Silas Adekunle, a 25-year-old Nigerian who immigrated to the U.K. at the age of 11 and taught himself robotics. Cofounders include chief technology officer Chris Beck and chief operating officer John Rees.
“We want to entertain people, but also inspire and educate them. We are going direct to consumers first,” said Adekunle, in an interview with GamesBeat. “Artificial intelligence is going to be a big market. Consumers are tired of the same old thing. This is something different, and something tangible you can touch.”
The inspiration for MekaMon came from building robots in science classes with underprivileged students in the U.K.
Adekunle said, “I love biology and engineering. Robotics was a way to combine those interests. That led me down this path.”
The team includes engineers, game designers and computer vision experts who built their reputations working at Aston Martin and Airbus. MekaMon’s robots have gone through 27 iterations over three years of development to become premium fighting machines.
The basics of botplay
The spiderlike robots are available for purchase today at MekaMon.com for $330. The MekaMon app makes the smartphone screen a dashboard for controlling and customizing the real-life robots, as well as a gateway for augmented reality gameplay.
In single-player campaigns, players dive into an AR world where they learn how to strike, evade, and master the robot’s controls. MekaMon’s tracking technology enables robots to transcend the physical environment and become one with digital gameplay in real time.
The robots have three degrees of freedom per leg, allowing a sophisticated level of movement. The robots can be customized with physical accessories that add weapons or shields, enabling the creation of aggressive, defensive, or technical specialists.
The robots have one hour of battery life per charge. The robots use a phone camera and infrared tracking system for more precise control. Each weighs about 2.2 pounds.
“Our robots can move in a majestic and explosive way,” said Adekunle.
Bot to bot play
MekaMon also has multiplayer action. In multiplayer mode, friends battle in bot-to bot-combat as well as arcade-style, co-op gameplay. The modes include Tug of War, Last Man Standing, and more. In Tug of War, a bunch of people can use their smartphones to fight for control of a single robot.
MekaMon robots can also connect to multiple devices, allowing for cooperative gameplay for two people and more. In single-player mode, gamers progress through the MekaMon campaign and earn upgrades and experience points they can use in future battles.
As the robots battle, they level up and achieve new capabilities and weapons that can be customized in the mobile app based on the player’s strategy. Digital items augment abilities and boost health and recovery times, adding a layer of depth and strategy to upgrade choices and inventory.
The first 500 people to buy MekaMon will receive exclusive features and enter the MekAcademy, a club that offers special promotions, battle advice, and more. For a limited time, a single MekaMon is available in the Lone Wolf Battle Pack for $330, while the Ultimate Battle Pack contains two MekaMons and is available for $600. The first 500 are expected to ship in January.
Reach Robotics investors include London Venture Partners, Qualcomm Ventures, Hardware Club, Iglobe Partners, Passion Capital, and Techstars. Rivals include Anki, Sphero, and Skylanders. Reach Robotics has 10 employees.
This post by Dean Takahashi originally appeared on VentureBeat.