Square Off is an automated chess board that moves its own pieces

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If you’ve watched or read Harry Potter and seen the Wizard’s Chess board – a magical version of the game where the pieces move themselves – then you already know what Square Off is and what it does.

Only now, replace magic with with a small robotic arm that moves magnetic chess pieces unseen below the playing surface and you get the idea.

Square Off is a combination of a real chess board and a smartphone app that lets you play against an AI or someone on the other side of the world. You, in meat space, just need to move a piece on the board and then when the AI/other player makes a move via an integrated app, the pieces will move themselves.

Started in 2013 as a board for the visually impaired, Square Off went through several iterations and is now in a launched beta state with an attached Kickstarter campaign that is hoping to raise €45 000 (R708 355).

It looks like it will reach it with no problems at all. At the time of writing the campaign still has 31 days to go and has raised €34 849 (R548 566).

The tech inside of the board includes an Arduino Mega 2560 complete with Bluetooth to communicate with the app, a two axis robot arm and a 2 200 mAh battery to power everything.

The more traditional parts of the board are comprised of 2.5 inch (6.35 centimetres) chess pieces complete with neodymium magnets and a wooden board complete with a “Rosewood finish”.

If you want one of these unique boards for yourself, the “Super Early Bird Offer” €179 (R2 817) is the cheapest, limited time option with it only becoming more expensive after that point. Delivery is planned for in April of 2017. The retail price, should it get to that stage, is pegged at €329 (R5 179).

We’re not really sure what to make of Square Off. All it really does is take apps and games that already exist and give them a physical aspect. Hell, if you’re a stickler for that you could just move the pieces yourself, despite the creators touting streaming of tournaments and other features in the campaign.

The main drew seems to be the fact that the pieces move themselves and, we have to admit, that is really cool.


Clinton Matos

Clinton Matos

Clinton has been a programmer, engineering student, project manager, asset controller and even a farrier. Now he handles the maker side of htxt.africa.