Mattel’s Hot Wheels, to me, is all about diecast automobiles. When it came up with a bunch of fancy stuff such as track sets, I wasn’t even moved. I only have eyes for the good’ol VW buses and Redline die-casts. My attitude towards Hot Wheels remain so until today when Hot Wheels introduces Hot Wheels id, a 21st century take of the good’ol track set made possible mainly by a technology we known as Near-field Communication, or NFC.
There are four parts to the new Hot Wheels id and they include the NFC chip-equipped die-cast cars, a Smart Track kit, a Race Portal and an app. The race portal is brain of the entire system. It is the start line of the track with an integrated NFC reader that makes it possible to log the car’s race time, speed and even compute the total distance traveled.
Since Hot Wheel id is single track like its low-tech forebears, Race Portal becomes a definitive judge of whose car is faster with data to back it up. Pretty neat, huh? But what really struck me that this is a really high-tech take of the good’ol Hot Wheels race car/track set is, the track pieces. They connect to one another via USB, thus allowing the app to know which pieces are being used and therefore, what the track looks like.
As a boon, the Race Portal, along with the NFC chip-equipped cars, is also usable with the low-tech track pieces you may already own. However, in the case of the latter, it won’t be know what pieces are being use and also not know the form of the track (and therefore, I believe, not able to calculate the total distance traveled). But at least you know if you have a bunch of dumb tracks lying around, you can go all out and lay it all over your house to create a giant circuit and also know how fast and how long your lovely NFC chip-equipped die-cast car makes the round.
Speaking of the die-cast car, the NFC also stores the performance data that makes each car uniquely identifiable. NFC also lets you scan the car into the app just by putting your NFC-enabled smartphone near the tag on the car. Finally, there’s the app. In theory, you can play it without the app, but if you do use the app, it will open up a world of possibilities, including virtual garage and virtual races, complete with the prospect of leveling up, which can do with friends.
In summary, Hot Wheels id NFC-enabled Race Car Set heralds the new age of toys be melting the world between physical and virtual.
Hot Wheels id Smart Track and compatible die-cast cars are, for now, exclusive to Apple Store where you can pick up the track for $179.95 and the cars for $6.95 a pop. The Race Portal is available separately at $39.95. The app is Free on App Store.
If you prefer not to deal with Apple, then you will have wait for it to land at Target this Fall. As for the app, Android users, it will arrive to next month on Google Play.