0.1.1 presentation EN - BattleKart presentation in english - 20210218
BattleKart: the kart race
which immerses you in the world of areal video game!
The only entertainment of its kind in the world, BattleKart combines the real sensations of a kart race and the fun of augmented reality. On board your kart, you’re immersed in a projected environment and slow down your opponents with the virtual bonuses you collect while racing. BattleKart is an innovative hobby to enjoy with friends, family or colleagues!
- What is BattleKart?
Since summer 2015 at Dottignies (Mouscron, Belgium), Sébastien Millecam has been creating a karting complex where augmented reality brings its share of fun to a “simple” race. The only one of its kind in the world and patented, the principle is innovative and ultra-efficient. Electric karts ride on a circuit projected on the ground through video projectors placed on the ceiling, they earn bonuses also projected on the ground, they attack their competitors with missiles, oil puddles, etc.
If you’re hit by a projectile kindly launched by an opponent, or drive over a puddle or the sides of the track, then the penalty is immediate: the kart is slowed by the game management system, which knows its position in real time thanks to a battery of sophisticated sensors. The only one of its kind in the world, the principle of BattleKart therefore relies on patented technologies.
- From concept to reality
Want to discover the origins of BattleKart? Through this interview with Sebastien Millecam, its creator, you’ll learn how this innovative game has gone from being a student concept to a successful startup.
Do you remember when you dreamt up BattleKart for the first time?
“Absolutely! The idea of BattleKart was born in September 2010, on the train between Mouscron and Tournai on a Sunday evening as I was returning to my student residence. I participated in the ING Start Academy competition where I passed the first qualifier but the second was a failure, because of slides prepared last minute on the train. I then understood that an idea might be interesting but was worthless if not well explained and presented! In my 4th year, I changed the idea I had in mind. And the more I thought about it, the more the prospect of making this concept my job seemed obvious to me. I then convinced my teachers to let me choose this subject for the various forthcoming projects: Marketing project, Umons Entrepreneurs, graduation work, etc. I made two remote control cars driven by touch pads that ran in a BattleKart environment. The workload has been enormous, involving designing cars, building them, developing the micro-controller program embedded in cars, creating the one that turns touch pads into remote controls, as well as the one that generates the image for the video projector, developing the tracking system and the program that communicates all that, and finally, writing a report that explains everything. I presented my dissertation in August 2012 and I got 19/20!”
How did you go from an “educational” experience to a startup?
"In parallel with my dissertation, I used an incubator and met potential investors. The miniature version worked and the plans for the full-size and commercial version were made. But the remote control cars were not enough to convince them. However, with my partner at the time, we bought a go-kart and we started to modify it. One year after graduating, in July 2013, we had a full-size demonstration version with a kart, over 400 m². We met the director of Lotto Mons Expo. Attracted by the project, he offered us the place for free. With 10,000 m² of the hall at no cost, we are eternally grateful to him! We spent two months at Mons-Expo to make the demo version. We pitched our tents there and regularly slept on site!”
Has the project experienced any difficulties?
“You might say, yes! In our demonstration version at the Lotto Mons Expo, we designed a load-bearing structure that was raised and included the projection electronics, the tracking system, etc. Unfortunately, the company that sold us the lifting logic shunted us poorly... When we assembled the structure, after 3 weeks of hard work, it went crashing to the ground. Some of the hardware (servers and projectors) that was lent to us was damaged. So it was back to square one with even more limited finances. But we didn’t let ourselves lose heart, we went back to work and we got there! The full-scale demo phase was essential for our search for funding; our various media outlets (TV, radio, print) earned us credibility! Once this step was over, we therefore started looking for funding (€1,000,000) and the operating site. The mission finally took us 1 year to the day.”
- Everything you can know about how the game works
The core of the game is protected by patents. There is a total of 48 video projectors, 24 per track. In fact, each one projects part of the circuit over a 80 m² circuit, so that they cover each track’s 2,000 m². It is a puzzle that the projection PC recreates, and the images overlap fadingly to make the connection invisible.
The setup and settings took a lot of time, but the tests at Lotto Mons-Expo helped a lot in the development. Sébastien had 8 projectors on loan by Polytech during the two months of the 2013 summer holidays, and these Epson models had a very interesting feature: independent adjustment of each corner of the projected rectangle, greatly facilitating the placing of puzzle pieces! Then, it was a question of designing the track; a designer worked on the tracks, the vibrators’ appearance, the greenery, etc.
The tracking system
The tracking is based on a set of 336 sensors placed on the ceiling and transmitters in karts that communicate constantly: the system returns the karts’ position 270 times per second, which maintains an accuracy in the order of one centimeter even at full speed!
The placement of bonus boxes is set by the game software: some are outside bends to push players to take wider turns and leave overtaking spaces, some are more accessible, etc. Needless to say at the exit so-and-so or such-and-such has been favoured, it’s impossible... unless Sébastien twists the program a bit, “only when I’m playing,” he jokes.
Finally, the missiles and other bonuses are projected and it’s the game system that calculates the position of real objects (karts) and virtual objects (bonuses, checkpoints, etc.) in real time and calculates the interactions to send karts the instruction to stop for 3 seconds, or send projection PCs the position and orientation of objects to display (missiles, etc..). In the long term, the karts will be programmed so that when passing over the oil puddle, only one wheel is blocked before going into an uncontrolled slide!
- Short and medium term developments
A high-growth success story, BattleKart has already welcomed some 55,000 players in its two year’s history (for more than 75,000 games played), and the meter is soaring every day. Projects continue to stream in to Dottignies, the site of the first BattleKart. The team has grown, and has about ten full-time equivalents today.
A developer has also been hired full-time and has been working since the beginning of 2017 to develop new game modes (BattleDrift, BattleSnake, BattleFoot, etc.) on a computer engine identical to those of the most popular video games on the market. “It clearly shows that BattleKart is a video game console, but is life-size,” says Sebastien. These game modes have already been beta tested this summer with players, and should be made available to customers very soon.
And the growth will not stop there, since the game designer is busy considering either expanding the Mouscron site on which it is located, or rebuilding a new complex. A multi-million euro project...
Soon, it will be international! “We are currently completing the reliability and the ‘transposable’ side of the concept,” explains Sébastien Millecam. “The goal is to be able to franchise BattleKart under the best conditions, that is, with a product which is fully developed technically and logistically and which can be duplicated everywhere without any concern for management or quality in hindsight.” Sébastien has already received nearly 200 proposals from investors throughout Europe, but also in the United States, Japan and Dubai... The opening of a short-lived complex in Lausanne, Switzerland, in mid-September 2017 was initial proof of the possibility of exporting the concept...
BattleKart in a few figures
- 45,000: the number of players who tested BattleKart between July 2017 and August 2018
- 6,264: in metres, the length of the network cables installed (533 cables, connected by 34 switches)
- 2,000 m²: the surface area of each of the two Dottignies tracks
- 336: the number of positioning sensors
- 270 times per second: how often news is updated in the game system
- 80: in square metres, the area covered by each video projector
- 48: the number of video projectors
- 10: in full-time equivalents, the size of the BattleKart team
- 1: in centimetres, the degree of accuracy of the tracking system
International Development & Franchise Director
BattleKart Europe SA
Rue du Valemprez, 20A
7711 Dottignies (Belgique)
Mobile : + 33 (0) 6 10 82 09 64
Mail : email@example.com
Office : + 32 (0) 56 98 01 71