About this project
Hey chess lovers!
We know that there’s nothing like playing a game of chess on a real board. But, let’s face it. It’s a busy world, people stay miles away from each other and even if someone wants to come over to play, it requires a hell lot of a planning. Phew! Too much effort. Result, you give up and end up playing chess online. How boring.
Square Off is all set to redefine the world of board games, starting with chess. Bringing to you the world’s smartest, most connected and the most evolved chess board. It enables you to play your favourite game against a fellow chess enthusiast from anywhere in the world. The automated board is designed to reflect the move of your opponent with precision. Not just that, you can challenge the artificial intelligence of the board too.
Yes, Square Off is here to bring back those charming old days when people played chess on classic tangible boards. Felt chess from their heart, indulged in the luxury of playing with wooden boards and handcrafted chess pieces. Where on one hand, it has revived the classic charisma of chess, on the other hand, Square Off has also made it smarter, automated and super fun.
Want to play a game of chess with someone who is as passionate? Possible. What if that person is sitting far away? Possible. What if he doesn’t have the same board? Still possible. Now, what’s not possible is to have an excuse for not playing your favourite game.
So let’s get connected. Let’s Square Off!
Square Off mode: Challenge anybody, from anywhere in the world. You can either play board vs board or board vs app. The chess pieces shall move on their own, reflecting every move of your opponent.
Training mode: Play against the artificial intelligence of the board that can challenge you with 20 different difficulty levels.
Live streaming mode: Tune into any match, worldwide. It also lets you record those matches and replay them, whenever you want.
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It uses a compact 2 axis robotic arm with a magnetic head beneath the box to move the magnetic chess pieces. The AtMega 2560 chip with Bluetooth BLE ensures smooth communication with a smartphone, taking care of decrypting and execution. The most important thing is that it is programmed in a way so that the chess pieces don’t collide during automatic movements.
Compatible with both Android and iOS (currently in beta) operating systems, Square Off is designed as a user-friendly app. It lets you interact with the board effortlessly; it just takes a click to begin the game.
But why an app? The idea is to keep the board button-free so that the users can enjoy the classic chess board experience. Be it selecting sides (black or white), difficulty levels, opening moves of computer, challenging friends, analyzing games, using the timer or chatting with the opponent (this feature is being worked upon), everything is controlled through the app.
Phone is connected to the board all the time via Bluetooth, allowing you to save an incomplete game. Also, it uses your phone’s Wi-Fi to connect to the internet and your phone’s processor to process the data and think of the next possible moves.
Currently, it works on Stockfish 7 which is one of the best open source chess engine and second engine is Cuckoo Chess, which is suitable for beginners. We plan to offer more chess engines in the future.
- Play against 20 different difficulty levels
- Select opening moves with ease
- Load and save an incomplete game
- Membrane sensing technology to detect the location of pieces
- Receive audio feedback during check, promotion, checkmate and for invalid moves (invalid moves, strictly not allowed)
- Get all the instructions through the app, on your phone screen
In the year 2013, the Chairperson of National Association of Blind (NAB) got in touch with us to understand the feasibility of an idea. He wanted us to design a chessboard for the visually impaired. It’s not possible for them to play chess on computers and smartphones. We, being board game lovers ourselves, simply dived in to explore the possibilities. We researched tirelessly to finally arrive at a design. But, we didn’t have any funds to bring it alive. That’s when an idea struck us.
We started participating in various technical paper presentations and national level tech competitions to earn the prize money, just to create the prototype. Gradually we gathered sufficient money to design our first prototype in 2014. And guess what? It worked.
The Chairman of NAB who was visually impaired himself, tested the prototype and loved playing on it. We showcased this prototype in many national exhibitions and got a great response. But, on 3rd October, 2014, for the first time we got an opportunity to present our prototype in front of an international audience in Maker Faire, Rome. This was the real turning point.
The tremendous response and exhaustive feedback helped us realise that the board has the potential to connect the entire world. So, the moment we returned, we were driven to work harder. We created 4 more prototypes and visited several events to get as much feedback as possible. We are board game lovers, but not exactly pro chess players. That’s why it was necessary to find out about those features that would really excite a chess player? From the very beginning, we were dedicated to bring alive the features requested by the users.
More opportunities flowed in. We were invited to showcase the prototype at all the IITs in India, then MIT Boston FAB 11, Startup Istanbul and the Sharjah Chess Club. After 3 years of sustained efforts, finally our Beta product was ready in May 2016. To test the product and gauge the response, we produced a small batch of Collector’s Edition Square Off boards and sold 20 specially created, highly premium boards within no time.
The struggle to create the manufacturing system
The next step was to work out the mechanics of a large scale production. The aim was clear: get the best price without compromising on the quality of the board.
However, the challenge was to find a manufacturer that would offer an incredible combination of technology and luxury. In other words, advanced software and hardware perfectly encased in a premium wooden surface. End of July 2016, we visited Shenzhen, China to explore the manufacturing possibilities. Shenzhen, being the electronics hub of the world, offered the technical expertise we were looking for without much trouble. But, finding a dealer for wood wasn’t that easy.
After a lot of research, we fortunately stumbled upon a dealer who could supply the desired quality of wood. And now we are all set to produce on a bigger scale to reach a larger number of people.
Your backing is of the utmost importance to us. Your funding can help us undertake bulk orders through our suppliers, at the best possible prices. So that we can direct the suppliers’ discounts, back to you. With your support we are aiming to raise 40000 pounds to achieve the minimum order quantity, so that we can arrive at the most economical price point. More importantly, we need funds to bear the setup costs to kick-off production and deliver to as many chess lovers as possible. That’s not all. The certification, necessary paperwork and government approvals will be possible only when we have a strong backing.
Your support opens up the possibility to develop many more fun board games that people would love to play.
Chess is just the beginning. Our vision is to add a variety of board games like Checkers, Backgammon, Snakes & Ladder, etc. to build a highly connected board gaming platform.
All you would need to do is upgrade the Square Off App, replace the top surface with another board game panel and you will be ready to play your preferred game with anybody in the world.
We will be glad to hear your suggestions on what board games you would like to see next on Square Off, and we are all ears for fun, innovative board game ideas too. So let your mind run wild and create an interesting board game. If the idea is entertaining enough, it can be the next game on our board.
Get in touch with us
If you have questions at any time, during or after the campaign, you can always reach us at email@example.com or leave a comment on this page.
Our heartfelt gratitude goes out to the following people for helping us throughout our journey
Risks and challenges
Our journey has been quite intense. It has taken us more than just time and effort to build Square Off and reach the final stage of supplying it to all the chess lovers around the world.
After carefully going over all the details, tripping points and potential challenges, we have lined up a seamless supply chain for all our components and derived a schedule with time to spare. Having said that, we must acknowledge the fact that some external factors remain out of our control. Due to a number of suppliers whom we are dealing with, there always remains a risk of schedule disruption if one of them fails to deliver in time. On the rare occurrence of any such situation, we promise to keep you updated.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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