Italian company Xplored has launched its ‘Teburu’ board game console, integrating wireless connectivity to transform the traditional board game into an immersive, multimedia gaming experience. The system is comprised of a connected board, connected dice and game pieces, and an AV feedback device—the ‘LED Ring’—that relays gameplay information to the players in near real time. It also includes software that can run on a smartphone, tablet, or PC to digitally enhance gameplay.
The board and its embedded sensors are powered by Nordic Semiconductor’s nRF52833 multiprotocol SoC. The sensors track the RFID-enabled game pieces as they are moved, and relay this data to the Nordic SoC in the board via a hardware connection. The connected dice integrate Nordic’s nRF52805 SoC and an inertial measurement unit (IMU) to acquire orientation information that is transmitted to the game board using Nordic’s 2.4 GHz proprietary low-power, low-latency Enhanced ShockBurst (ESB) protocol. The LED Ring is also powered by the nRF52805 and connected to the board using the ESB protocol. The nRF52833 in the board in turn relays this data to an app on the player’s smartphone using Bluetooth® LE wireless connectivity.
“The Teburu platform is designed to offer a digitally enhanced gaming experience, but with a still very analog basis,” explains Enrico Garofalo, Hardware Director of Xplored. “The gaming board, dice and minis [game pieces] are very similar to those used in standard tabletop games, but the ‘hidden’ electronics track user actions and make the app aware of users’ moves, in order to help them learn the rules, keep some key information hidden, and to manage enemies.”
The first game due to be released is ‘The Bad Karmas and the Curse of the Zodiac’, where four playable characters are tasked with using their individual skills and abilities as part of collaborative gameplay to defeat enemies and save the world. Each game includes a unique smartphone app that can be used as a ‘master’ to manage the gameplay and rules, and/or as a ‘controller’ to allow each player to control their character’s actions. The app will also respond to dice rolls and physical figurine movements on the board, and can automatically show the player their available gameplay options. The LED Ring provides additional visual feedback through RGB LEDs and a buzzer, and the app will provide both visual and audio feedback in response to the events of the game.
The connected dice and LED Ring are powered by small Li-ion power cells. As the small form factor 16 mm cube dice have to integrate the Nordic SoC, the IMU, a wireless charging antenna, and the battery, an ultra low power consumption SoC was essential. Nordic’s nRF52805 SoC has been engineered to minimize power consumption with features such as the 2.4 GHz radio’s 4.6 mA peak RX/TX currents and a fully-automatic power management system. The dice also employ a proprietary energy saving algorithm that switches between four different power levels during gameplay to extend battery life.
“Nordic’s support and worldwide user community helped us a lot when designing the hardware and developing the customized software,” says Garofalo. “The quality and documentation of Nordic’s SDK made it easy to use, while compatibility with open source compilers helped speed up programming and debugging.”