How We Brought an Interactive Racing Experience to London
Chaos Karts founder Tom Lionetti-Maguire is a man with a vision for immersive entertainment. Lionetti-Maguire is a pioneer in the world of immersive entertainment and has produced the critically acclaimed and widely popular Crystal Maze Experience in both London and Manchester. This August 2021, Lionetti-Maguire’s company Chaos Karts will release the first-ever of its kind in the UK premier augmented reality karting experience. Chaos Karts will be headquartered in London’s uber-trendy Shoreditch neighborhood. Hoping to draw the spirited interests of both avid gamers and die-hard go-karting aficionados alike, Chaos Karts provides a gaming and physical experience unlike any other to date.
Suppose you’ve watched the movie “Ready Player One” and were blown away by the infinite augmented reality possibilities the future has in store. In that case, you understand that Virtual Reality (VR) is a technology that we’re only just starting to perfect. Being able to overlay projected graphics and interact with the digitally projected environment without the need for a VR headset is a game-changer. The technology behind Chaos Karts’ augmented reality (AR) technology was made possible by a collaboration between Chaos Karts and Ents, Inc., who is responsible for introducing and implementing the technology required to make the experience as immersive and fun as possible for the London gaming and karting scene.
An Immersive Experience in London
IIn their official statement, Chaos Karts founder Tom Lionetti-Maguire said: ‘We are so excited to be launching this brand-new attraction, and especially to be doing so this summer. Creating a real-life version of a videogame has been an obsession for some time, and we are delighted to have cracked it. Every time you play it, the adrenaline, the pure elation of it… it still surprises me every time.
‘The gamification of experiences is a phenomenon that is here to stay, and this is the purest distillation of it. It’s a game and an experience, wrapped up in a whole load of silliness, with a sprinkling of nostalgia for good measure. Chaos Karts is a gamer-changer. All this and opening in time for a summer of fun that we so desperately deserve is frankly a dream come true!’
Up to eight players zoom around in karts at max speeds of 27 Kmph while competing against one another and interacting with several digitally projected obstacles and projectiles as they navigate the circuit. The circuits are beautifully rendered digitally projected landscapes featuring familiar London streets, the dry Nevada desert, sunny Florida beaches, and even outer space. At the start of each course, players can select which circuit they will drive together.
Each player is assigned a physical kart that they drive within the confines of the warehouse. A complex array of projectors and sensors distributed throughout the circuit area receive and transmit information collectively to each other relaying information in real-time. Information is also shared between the karts, which have their own embedded sensors, and also shared with the circuit sensors. Players can aim projectiles or power-ups at their fellow drivers, and the sensors relay the information so that the projectile or obstacle appears precisely where it was aimed. These objects are digital projections, but the smart kart responds to them as if they were real obstacles or projectiles. As players drive around the circuit, points are amassed and tallied in real-time, so players have an idea of their standings and how many points they need to best their competition.
Because the karts are ‘smart’ karts, they feature very modern and state-of-the-art collision-reduction mechanisms already built-in. These built-in safety mechanisms prevent karts from colliding with one another and negate the need for set physical boundaries. That also means there is no need for cumbersome safety gear like helmets, protective jumpsuits, or gloves (as long as you’re over the age of 13 and above 5ft tall). Players can collect power-ups along the circuit and also collect and use weapons such as hammers, bombs, laser guns, and speed boosts to increase their competitive advantage while they battle it out with other players.
Chaos Karts utilises projection mapping, a video projection technology that turns any surface such as a building, stage, runway, water, or even an entire warehouse into an interactive display. These surfaces essentially become a canvas overlayed with immersive images and scenery. This technology enables Chaos Karts to overlay entirely realized racing circuits, instantly transporting players to amazing tracks and locations.
Projection mapping is also called video mapping or spatial augmented reality. It is a projection technology that can map a surface and utilise it for video projection. Utilising specialized software, two-dimensional and three-dimensional objects can be spatially mapped onto surfaces like a racing circuit. Extra dimensions, optical illusions, and the illusion of movement can be added to a projected object to give it a more realistic look.
Laying Down Tracks and Silly Fun
The entire Chaos Karts experience is meant to be competitive, invigorating, silly, and above all, fun. Gameplay is similar to the ever-popular and much-loved Mario Kart franchise. Players can select between several race tracks or circuits, testing their driving skills across various terrains like outer space, coastlines, mountains, famous racetracks, and other racing venues and environments.
What makes this experience both fun and challenging is the happy union of go-kart motorsport and gaming. Driving skills and gaming skills are required in order to claim the coveted first place position and win the race. Players must know how to skillfully drive go-karts and also be adept at gameplay and strategy. Employing power-ups to sabotage or slow down opponents is just as important to winning the race as having the skills to maintain speed and control through a tight turn.
Chaos Karts opened on Fleet Street Hill in Shoreditch, London, and be accessible to anyone over the age of 13 and with a minimum height of 153cm. Tickets are available for sale from £30 per person.