Co-Founder, President

The Artful Intersection of Design and Technology in Anki DRIVE

When my co-founders and I were still in graduate school at the Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute, we strove to create robots that were highly functional. Many of the systems that we and our colleagues worked on were amazing in their function and intelligence, but rarely was too much attention given to appearance and beautiful design.

At Anki, we firmly believe that design is critical, that the look and feel of the experience needs to be as beautifully designed as the technology behind it. As we work to bring artificial intelligence and robotics out of the labs and into people’s everyday lives, the design and the technology need to integrate seamlessly and complement each other at every step.

When creating Anki DRIVE, we were looking for a unique design in all aspects of the product that would match the gameplay experience. So we set out to find a world-class designer with both skills and style that would match the distinct needs of a product like Anki DRIVE. We did hours upon hours of research, poring through books, magazines, and websites on car designs. We would discover designs we loved, and stack rank them. Through all of this, we found one designer whose name came up again and again, and whose work consistently topped our lists: Hollywood designer Harald Belker. Harald is the man behind the design of such film icons as the ’96 Batmobile, the vehicles in Minority Report, Tron Legacy and recently, Total Recall 2012.

When Harald signed up to join us, we were ecstatic to be able to work with him to bring our vision for these characters to life. He’s now our lead designer behind the look and feel of the Anki DRIVE characters.

At Anki, our design and engineering have to work together in perfect synchronicity – our software depends on perfectly designed hardware to execute precisely, and vice versa. For example, the smallest change in the software could result in the need to completely redesign some factor of the hardware in order to ensure the characters perform the way they should.

Harald was used to designing life-sized cars, or cars that only needed to function in films rather than in the real world. Together with the engineering team, he needed to design small cars that were both beautiful and that would also operate in precise and predictable ways. This was a different sort of challenge, and one that he seized with gusto.

On the software side, we based the personalities for each car on the way they look and feel. Harald’s designs have dictated which characters are faster, or better armored. Likewise, our desire for a particular strategy or trait for a character has influenced Harald’s designs.

You can check out Harald’s thoughts, and a bit more about our design process here.

But our rigor around design doesn’t stop with the cars. We’ve looked at each component of Anki DRIVE with an eye on design – from the way the track looks, to the UI in the app…even the packaging went through countless iterations before we landed on just the right premium feel.

We appreciate that design can do something for a product that technology cannot do alone. We want people to look at Anki DRIVE and be inspired, excited, and ready to play.

We couldn’t be more excited for Anki DRIVE to arrive in just a few short days.

For more info, please click here.