If Anki’s AI-powered vehicles taught us anything, it’s that racing miniature cars with augmented reality overlays can be a heck of a lot of fun, whether you’re battling trucks or racing vehicles from the Fast & Furious films. Which is why we’ve been wondering when other companies will get in on the action. Turns out, that’s happening now with the Hot Wheels Augmoto, a new AR-reinforced racing track set.
That’s right, Hot Wheels is now moving into high-tech territory, with a new set that combines physical play with video game overlays. No, we have no idea if it even comes close to the fun gameplay Anki facilitates with their sets, but given how important the outfit has been to the die-cast model car community, we’re definitely willing to give it a shot.
The Hot Wheels Augmoto consists of two electric-powered 1:64-scale cars, a racing oval that measures over six feet wide (yeah, you’ll need plenty of floor space for this), and a companion app. Both cars look like futuristic racing beasts (like if a Batmobile was outfitted for track duty), which, we guess, should fit right in with the video game component, complete with. The track, on the other hand, is plenty wide, so there’s a good load of room to overtake your opponent, complete with banked curves and a crossover double loop. Simply put, it’s an uncomplicated but fun-looking track that could make for a good load of fun even without the AR component.
Charging stations right on the track allow you to power up the cars without having to plug them in individually, although you will have to dock the cars in correctly to make sure the batteries can properly fill up. Don’t worry, the app comes with full instructions about how to insert the cars for charging, so there’s really no need to be doing any trial-and-errors for this thing.
The Hot Wheels Augmoto can be played solo (you go up against the AI) or two-player, so you can do races even without a friend in tow. To start a race, you simply pair the app to the track, do all the preliminary instructions (e.g. docking the cars in the charging station), choose game options, and “scan” the track using your tablet’s camera. Once that’s done, your race is ready to start, with the app showing the track and the vehicles with extra images overlaid, including a floating Jumbotron, a lap counter, and various other elements that definitely make the scene look a lot more festive.
When batteries are running low (there’s a fuel gauge onscreen), you can make a pit stop by docking into the charging station for a refuel before getting back to partake in the action. The app overlays a variety of effects to make the races and the encounters between cars more exciting, including explosions, crowd noises, and more, making the whole thing feel like a legitimate video game that you can, somehow, turn away from and watch unfold in real life.