FORTUNE -- Anki Drive's toy-sized ecosystem just got bigger.
The San Francisco-based startup, which released its artificial intelligence-driven cars last October, unveiled two new tracks and two new cars Wednesday -- the first new hardware of any kind since launch.
Available for $100 starting May 6, Anki's new tracks offer new challenges for racers: "Crossroads" throws in a twist, adding an intersection that players must navigate and avoid crashing into opponents. The other track, dubbed "Bottleneck," features a narrow section that players must squeeze through at high speeds. Meanwhile, two new cars -- a battle aggressive vehicle called Corax and the speed-focused car called Hadio -- will each retail for $70 and go on sale in the coming weeks.
Anki's new hardware is supported behind the scenes by a free mobile app update that syncs up the cars and a mobile device. "The thing we've always said from the beginning is so much of what we're doing is driven by the software," emphasized Mark Palatucci, Anki's co-founder and the company's chief product officer.
Anki's app, which players use to steer the cars, uses highly sophisticated artificial intelligence developed in-house. It gives each toy car distinct characteristics in terms of speed, steering, and weapons. While the A.I. is smart enough to allow the cars to automatically weave around corners and change competitive racing strategies all on their own, it's really intended to create an accessible experience for human players. (Steering controls are basically boiled down to accelerating and decelerating, steering left and right, and firing weapons.) So a newbie can still go toe-to-toe with more experienced players, or a solo player can still enjoy a race with cars controlled by A.I.
Anki first caught public attention when Tim Cook introduced CEO Boris Sofman and the Anki racing game on stage at Apple's Worldwide Developer's Conference in June 2013.
With $50 million in venture-backed funding from such luminaries as Andreessen Horowitz and Two Sigma Ventures, co-founders Sofman, Palatucci, and Hans Tappeiner have been developing ways to refine their A.I. and expand Anki's ecosystem beyond their first product launch last fall, potentially moving beyond games.
Anki Drive is currently on sale in the U.S. at Apple (AAPL) stores, Apple.com, Anki.com, and Amazon.com (AMZN). The standard base kit ($199) includes a large race track, two toy-sized cars, and chargers. The companion mobile app runs on iOS devices, including the iPhone 4S and above.
They look past a firm's current performance to examine their potential to dominate new markets
By Christopher Lochhead, Dave Peterson, and Al Ramadan
FORTUNE -- Savvy technology investors seek potential, not performance. They identify companies leveraging technology to build and dominate new market sectors that show promise for significant growth. Because elite tech investors know two things that others don't: First, there is no such thing as a legendary company MOREApr 8, 2014 10:10 AM ET
The tech giant's $99 device, released this week, is an impressive living room contender.
FORTUNE – Anything you can do, Amazon (AMZN) can do better -- and at cost.
That's clearly the mission behind the company's latest device, the long-rumored Fire TV: a $99 tile-shaped, coaster-sized set-top box that streams media à la Roku and Apple TV (AAPL). But the company trumps the competition, at least on the hardware side, by packing a MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Apr 4, 2014 5:22 PM ET
We saw what Amazon did to the publishing industry. Now it's going after videogames.
FORTUNE -- Remember bookstores? Those adorable little places of curated and whimsy and fanciful stories? The place where we purchased books?
They're gone, mostly, and you can blame Amazon (AMZN). The $157 billion company got its start selling books online, happy to lose money while driving prices down, waiting for its brick-and-mortar competitors, with their thin margins and high overhead, MOREErin Griffith - Apr 3, 2014 5:00 AM ET
"Each month that passes," writes Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster, "reduces our confidence."
FORTUNE -- Pity Gene Munster.
It's been five years since Piper Jaffray's chief Apple (AAPL) watcher first alerted investors that Steve Jobs' "hobby" -- the Apple TV set-top box that launched in 2007 -- was merely a precursor to a more ambitious project: a full-blown Apple television set.
"While Apple downplays the possibility," he wrote in a February 2008 note to clients, "we expect the MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 2, 2014 10:55 PM ET
FORTUNE -- The battle to control your living room is heating up, and today Amazon (AMZN) stepped up its efforts with Amazon Fire TV, a box for streaming video through a television set.
The battle over software performance and specs is a race to the bottom in terms of price. The ultimate winner will be the one offering the best -- and most -- content. In that respect, Amazon is off to MOREErin Griffith - Apr 2, 2014 4:39 PM ET
Amazon is creating TV shows, movies, and games, but it left music streaming to partners Pandora and iHeartRadio.
FORTUNE -- Today Amazon (AMZN) revealed Fire TV, a streaming video box for television entertainment. The $99 unit, available for sale today, is part of the ongoing fight for the living room between the tech industry's largest players. Fire TV competes with Google's Chromecast, Apple's Apple TV, Microsoft's Xbox 360, Sony's Playstation, and MOREErin Griffith - Apr 2, 2014 2:15 PM ET
Samsung follows at $55,184. Microsoft at $42,220. Google at 23,587. Amazon at $1,439.
FORTUNE -- Here's a fun interactive graphic, produced by the online marketers at Distilled for WorldPay Zinc, a U.K.-based payment service for small business.
Click on the snapshot and it will start a clock showing you how much revenue and profit each of a dozen high-tech companies is generating by the second. On a per-minute basis, Samsung comes in first in MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Mar 20, 2014 4:21 AM ET
The big orange circle is Google's Motorola. The big blue one is Facebook's WhatsApp.
FORTUNE -- I can't vouch for the accuracy of the data in this infographic, created by business insurance provider Simply Business and posted Friday on TechCrunch, but even if it's a little off it gives you a good feel for how Apple's (AAPL) relatively small, targeted acquisitions compare with such multibillion dollar deals as Google (GOOG) buying Motorola ($12.5 MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Mar 7, 2014 11:37 AM ET
The company still shines brightest in the eyes of its peers.
FORTUNE -- You wouldn't know it from the relentlessly skeptical commentary on CNBC, the Pulitzer-prize-winning series in the New York Times, or the measly 12 times earnings Wall Street pays for its stock, but Apple (AAPL) is widely respected by people in the business.
"Apple is undoubtedly a victim of its own success," Adam Lashinsky wrote last year when Apple -- its share price MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Feb 27, 2014 6:30 AM ET
|Canadians arrest a Heartbleed hacker|
|US Airways won't fire worker who sent lewd tweet|
|5 people you might not tip (but should)|
|Google stock sinks after missing Street|
|Toyota unveils redesigned Camry|