A big THANKS to each and every one of you!
You funded us... Real FX is happening.
One of our backers (Schoey) is setting up an independent forum, which I believe is planned to be up & running within a few days of the campaign finish, at: RealFXForum.com
Another of our backers (MattP) has started a Sub-Reddit for Real FX, where everyone can register to join in discussions: www.reddit.com/r/RealFXracing/
What is Real FX Racing?
- Radio control cars with Artificial Intelligence, for control never achieved before
- Slotless expandable, customisable track that sets up in seconds, not hours
- AI system gives super-rich features while racing, similar to video games
What's so good about it?
For the first time ever you can truly race against other players, or a ‘virtual opponent’ in the confines of your front room. Artificial Intelligence will assist you to stay on the track, but you need to use your skill to be the fastest driver in the race, overtake or undertake your opponents, deal with track hazards, from tire blowouts to oil spills, and comply with pit-stop call-ins.
And just like in video gaming, with RealFX you don't need another physical player in the room to still compete in a race. You simply add the second car, switch its handset to ‘Pace Car’ mode and race against it! It's Artificial Intelligence means it will drive around the track and compete against you!
Lightweight, affordable & patented '1-Sec-Connect' track segments click into place in less than1 second, allowing you to make a full size track layout in less than a minute - and take it down in the same time (well, usually even quicker). Go round chairs, under tables, or even from room to room.
Unlike slot racing, you are not ‘stuck in a rut’. With RealFX you are free to overtake or undertake other cars at any point on the track. Learn expert moves like power slides, and if you do take a corner too fast, or collide and spin off, you can just hit the ‘R/C’ button to switch into normal radio control mode, and drive straight back onto the track.
*Jack input accepts headphones
- Flexible, durable & lightweight printed race track segments. Available in either 'Starter Track' or 'Pro-Racing Track' sets.
- Track segments click together in less than1 second. Even adding time for moving around as you create your chosen track you can still complete the largest track in under 2 minutes!
- 'Starter Track' set includes 12 pieces of track that can be interlinked to create your own track designs. Includes Pit Lane, Starting Grid, Bends, Straights & Chicane. Total track length is approximately 6 m (20 ft)
- 'Pro-Racing Track' set includes 39 pieces of track, including Pit Lane, Starting Grid, Bends, Straights, Chicane as well as reverse bends. Total track length is approximately 16 m (52 ft). This set also includes a precision contoured flyover bridge & track extension pieces, to allow you to build a track layout with crossovers for the ultimate racing experience!
- Cars incorporate front & back opto-sensors that read the track in real time & communicate with their Smart Controller
- Cars are powered with readily available 3 x 1.5V AAA batteries. One set can power over 4 hours of racing
- Realistic scale speeds of up to 180 mph!
- 'Pistol Grip' style Smart Controllers
- Trigger for throttle (speed), and jog wheel for steering
- Smart Controllers communicate with your car & other players using wireless 2.4GHz, allowing dynamic pairing for multiple players without interference.
- Smart Controllers include audio for in-race announcements & game setup guidance, and multi-colour LEDs to indicate status.
How do you play with it?
- It's very easy to start racing, but takes skill & practice to perfect!
- User friendly voice menu & race announcements with multi-language audio (8 languages included: English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Arabic, Japanese. Russian)
- RFX has 2 main play modes:
- Practice: It takes just seconds to start racing in this mode. Hone your skills. Race around the track & your Smart Controller will state your lap time to 1/100 of a second, and even announce when you set a new personal lap record. Your friends can practice at the same time & monitor their own performance.
- Championship: This allows you to add multiple players, in a race that lasts for a certain number of laps. You can either fully customise your race settings, select from pre-defined options, or 'replay last race'.
- Pressing the 'Pace Car' button allows you to use a second car as a ‘virtual opponent’ in either Practice or Championship mode.
- Real-time race events: In Championship mode you have the option to add race event simulations. There are several types:
- Track hazards (e.g. oil spill): An upcoming hazard will be announced by your Smart Controller. You need to adjust your driving style before hitting the hazard. The hazard is signalled by a sound effect, and your cars performance is temporarily altered.
- Pit-lane events (e.g. transmission failure): When your handset announces a pit lane event, you will hear a sound effect, and your cars performance will steadily drop until you enter & exit the pit lane.
- You can choose the frequency of race events in the race setup menu.
- You can also choose whether the hazards are 'random' (can happen to each player at any time in the race), or 'targeted'. When 'targeted' hazards have been chosen, you can use the numbered 'feature buttons' on your Smart Controller to attack an opponent at any point during the race & seize your moment to overtake!
Here are a few video clips showing some of the features of Real FX:
Pairing Car + Controller, and starting in Practice Mode
Setting up a Championship Race, and adding an additional player
Adding a virtual opponent using 'Pace Car' mode
A quick view of the 'flyover' accessory (included in the Pro Racing track set)
A short race!
Where can we go next?
- Think of this project like video games meets radio control, and it’s a bit like buying into a console system!
- Once you have bought into the 'system', you will be able to add stuff in future
- The car body shells are designed to be easily swapped – You could even make your own custom shells with 3D printing.
- The smart controller includes a memory slot that will allow you to load updated or completely new gameplay with different themes.
- Because the cars respond to real time reading & processing of track signals, we can release new track segment types or accessories.
- The communication system used will allow us to add enriched interaction with smart devices in the future (stay tuned).
How we got here...
The original concept for what has morphed into RealFX Racing was first conceived in 2004. Jim wanted to try and create a version of slot racing for the modern age. Jim, Mark & Dave spent the next 5 years working on the theory, and building a proof of concept prototype. In 2009 they lined up meetings with some of the Worlds biggest toy & radio control companies and presented their idea. It’s a tale we have heard many time before. The responses were a resounding WOW, but ultimately they wanted to see more finished product. We had no budget to do this. Big companies tend to have their marketing & development strategies set in stone several years out and often require finished proof of concepts. When confronted with an innovation that doesn’t look almost finished, the risk tends to be a step too far. Even leading slot car manufacturers, who saw the benefit of the system, weren’t sure how to market a slot car system that didn’t have a slot!
Since those early days, we have worked on a wide variety of projects, but development of what we now call ‘RealFX Racing’ has continued throughout.
In July 2010 we filed multiple patents, covering elements of the control system and track.
By 2011 we had created a version of the product which allowed cars to race around a roll-out track. The handsets controlled the cars via radio control on a 27 MHz frequency. We exhibited this prototype to US retailers in the Dallas Fall Preview that year, to a very enthusiastic audience of major companies. Our Sales Director was delighted at the size of the order book, but events took a further twist.
It has taken us almost three years to make the changes we wanted. We had to switch to using a 2.4 GHz communication system, so we had access to sufficient channels and bandwidth to link as many players as possible, and allow multidirectional communications. Early prototypes used $300 hobby grade R/C cars, at 1/27 scale. We had to try & give our cars the same kind of control & response found in the hobby grade car, but engineer the cost down to something acceptable for a bigger market. It was also important that we reduced the size as much as was physically possible, to minimise the size of roll-out track required.
Current status & production plans.
If this Kickstarter campaign is successfully funded, we will proceed with a Production Pilot run in the factory, in preparation for full production, which we would plan to start in early August. All of the mats are going to being printed in the UK to allow us to inspect & ensure accurate calibration & optimal quality.
Who are we?
The core project team for RealFX Racing consists of:
Dr. Graeme Taylor – Director & Head of Wow! Stuff Labs
Graeme co-ordinates the WSL team, manages projects and oversees external consultants and inventor products. Researcher for IP and uses thereof, inventor of multiple patents in the field of toys and technology, developer and manager of the Wow! Stuff group’s overall IP.
Dr. Jim Wyatt – Creative Director, Wow! Stuff Labs
Jim leads ‘blue sky’ research, trend spotting and innovation, helping to develop Wow! Labs technology and solutions into new products and services. Jim has a PhD in Cybernetics and User eXperience (UX). He worked for 8 years in China bringing innovative toy concepts to market. Jim has delivered more than 150 invited presentations, live demonstrations and workshops on different aspects of cybernetics, robotics and toys. Inventor of numerous patents.
Dr. Mark Gasson - Technical Director, Wow! Stuff Labs
Mark is primarily responsible for developing proof of concept prototypes & economic design for mass manufacture of innovative concepts based on emerging technology. He has aPhD in Cybernetics and Neuro-Engineering and has lectured at Tedx as well as authoring or co-authoring over 100 academic research papers. Inventor of numerous patents. Mark is even in the Guines Book of Records! See Wikipedia Dr. Mark Gasson.
Dr Dave Keating – Consultant in Control Systems & Signal Processing
Paul Minchinton - Consultant in Digital Signal Processing and AI systems
Gareth Shaw - Graphic design & master of gradients
About Wow! Labs
Wow! Labs is a spin out of Wow! Stuff, itself a multi-award winning toy development and distribution company headquartered in the United Kingdom.
Graeme Taylor was a co-founder of Wow! Stuff in 2006. After wearing many different hats & developing many gift, toy & consumer products, he naturally drifted into more technical & innovative areas, leading to the incubation of a ‘special projects’ unit within Wow Stuff, which has evolved into Wow! Labs.
Graeme met Mark, Jim & Dave when working on a previous project. They presented their concept for RealFX Racing to him in 2010. After initially working separately, Mark & Jim eventually joined Wow! Labs as shareholders.
Wow! Labs has offices in the UK and Los Angeles. We invent products ourselves, as well as working with inventors around the globe to co-create exciting new products. Wow! Labs has a highly qualified team of engineers and scientists creating cutting edge technology in the digital-meets-physical space, as well as in more traditional toys and consumer products. Wow! Labs mission is “To work in partnership with major toy and media companies to help power tomorrow’s leading brands, and to keep existing brands highly relevant for the fast changing play patterns of today’s consumers.
Our parent company, Wow! Stuff, has a track record of creating & manufacturing successful products in both the toy & gift markets. Take a look at some of the recognition we are proud to have received in recent years below.
RealFX Racing in the news:
We will try & keep this up to date throughout the campaign as we get coverage and comments.
Click on the links below to read what people are writing about Real FX
RealFX has been in development for over 6 years. Some toy industry trade announcements were made and at February 2014’s famous New York Toy Fair USA's Fox News breakfast show toy expert pronounced it as one of 5 products representing the ‘Top Toy Trends’ and hottest new items of the year.
Here is what Richard Reed, co-founder of Innocent Drinks, thought about RealFX Racing after trying it out at Founders Forum, London (project launch day)
Risks and challenges
We have already worked with our manufacturing partner to produce moulds, electronics & working samples. We also conducted a trial production run on the factories assembly lines (known as a Production Pilot, or PP run) in late 2013. This product development process has allowed us to debug & improve the product at every step.
Should this project be backed, the next stage of the process will be a further PP run, with any findings from the initial PP run acted upon. We will commence this at the earliest stage possible, as there is always the potential for something unexpected to be found during this stage of the process.
However, by starting a PP run at the earliest possible time, we are confident that if any problems do arise, we have sufficient time to overcome them & maintain our production plan, with the first products delivered in October 2014.
We have already completed toy safety testing of the product, to ensure full compliance with regulations in EU, USA, Australia & other key markets.
The core project team of scientists have over 50 years experience within the toy, robotics and radio control industries, and the company that incubated Wow! Labs in the early years, Wow! Stuff, has been manufacturing and exporting from China through our Hong Kong office since 2006.
The facility we are using for manufacture is one of the most respected, specialist R/C factories in China. They have a track record of delivering high quality, reliable products, supplying the Worlds largest retailers.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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