RFID-equipped go-karts bring Mario Kart to life at SXSW

An article I wrote for Electronic Products.

One of Nintendo’s classic video games was turned into a reality

If you grew up playing Nintendo and were a fan of Mario Kart, you’ll be excited (and probably a bit jealous) to know that at South By Southwest (SXSW), a few drivers were lucky enough to strap into go-karts and tear down the track like Mario and Luigi.

Mario_Kart_Reimagined

Mario Kart Reimagined was a Nintendo lover’s dream come true. Image via trendhunter.com.

Pennzoil teamed up with Nintendo, who is about to release Mario Kart 8 for the Wii U, to sponsor Mario Kart Reimagined, where drivers raced karts equipped with radio frequency identification (RFID) sensors. Just like in the video game, racers had to either drive over or avoid icons, which were actually decals embedded with RFID tags. Depending on the item the driver received from the icon, kart performance improved with a boost of voltage to the motor or the kart slowed down to a putter for a few seconds.

GoPro cameras were mounted to the karts to stream video of the race, and graphic effects from the game were added in real-time. The footage was displayed on split-screen jumbotrons around the track so bystanders could see the games’ floating turtle shells and upside-down footage when a driver ran over the anti-gravity icon.

Check out the video below to see some real-life Mario Kart action.

Though some drivers were expecting more effects during the race, such as augmented reality helmets, Pennzoil and their ad agency, JWT Atlanta, only had three months to pull off the real-life Mario Kart race. Considering it’s not easy to find a venue in Austin during SXSW, let alone a racetrack, they crossed the finish line just in time to create what most would agree was a very successful event.

Story via Discovery.

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