Be under no illusions: Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit is fantastic, and what it trades away in realism it makes up for in sheer entertainment value — at least until your cat (or small child) decides that it's go-time to wage war on your kart. But what if there was a way to turn the realism up? Like way up?
That's precisely what David Wiernicki (aka the guy behind high-end full-motion simulator manufacturer Force Dynamics) did, and how he did it is pretty brilliant. Instead of trying to hack the Switch or the game software, Wiernicki's team circumvented it entirely by installing their own microprocessor and accelerometer, which broadcasts its signal to the PC that runs the simulator.
The sim rig takes the Switch video signal and displays it on the screens, but beyond that, the Switch isn't involved. What's also cool about Wiernicki's solution is that, because your remote-controlled kart is affected in the real world by in-game objects, the accelerometer will pick up those movements, too.
The next big trick was offsetting the signals sent from the sensors on the kart so that David's kid wouldn't get flung around like a ragdoll by the powerful simulator. In the end, it took some manipulation of Force Dynamics' in-house software to tone things down, and the result is a pretty awesome engineering exercise.
"Turning the data into usable motion cues was a challenge that took a couple of days of tweaking and some fairly advanced signal processing. A small, light kart has a lot of high-frequency vibrations, and the turns are very sudden," said David Wiernicki, president of Force Dynamics, in a statement.
"We wanted to show how well the motion system could handle the challenge without putting my son through NASA astronaut-training levels of G-forces, so it took leveraging a bunch of advanced cueing parameters in our cueing software to find a reasonable compromise," Wiernicki continues.
Frankly, it looks like the most fun way to lose your lunch ever, and I wish I had the deep pockets and massive floor space necessary for a setup like this. The Force Dynamics 401cr is technically portable, as long as you have a forklift, and it offers infinite rotation on its platform, which is cool, especially for flight games.
If you're not familiar with Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit, it's pretty ingenious. It takes the experience of driving a remote control car and overlays that via augmented reality with a video game. The kart has a camera and provides feedback to the Nintendo Switch. You can set up your own courses inside your house (or wherever, really) and have epic races.
Mario Kart real racetrack has the smarts to keep you on track