The pieces move by themselves in this crazy high-tech chess board

Any Harry Potter fan has surely spent at least a few moments of their life wishing that Wizard’s Chess — the enchanted version of the classic game in which pieces move without being touched — was a real thing.

Thanks to a new Kickstarter campaign, it is. Well, sort of.

Claiming to be the “smartest and the most-evolved chess board ever,” Square Off gives players a physical chess board, but one where your opponent’s moves happen automatically — with the pieces sliding around the board, seemingly of their own accord.

Your opponent can be either an AI, letting you hone your skills against a chess-playing computer intelligence, or fellow chess enthusiasts from around the world, courtesy of the wonders of the internet.

The AI opponents include Cuckoo Chess, which is suitable for beginners, as well as Stockfish 7, which ranks among the best open source chess engines out there. More AI engines are set to be added in future.

“We’ve tried to bring the best parts of a virtual board into reality, so you don’t need to sit in front of your screen to play,” creator Bhavya Gohil told Digital Trends. “Ask any serious chess player if they prefer playing on a physical board or a computer screen, and they’ll choose the board every time. That was our reason for launching this Kickstarter, to help regain the physical feel of board games, which you simply don’t get using a computer. At the same time, it lets you play even if there isn’t another opponent in the room with you at that moment.”

Gohil said that the project started with the goal of building a chess set that would let visually impaired people play against a computer, since they often struggle to see the details on monitors or tablet displays. This is where Gohil and his fellow researchers came up with the series of stepper motors and electromagnets which allow the pieces to move on their own.

“On the top surface there is also a membrane-sensing technology, which can read what move the human player is making,” he continued. “When you move a piece, the board needs to know what that is, so it can feed it back to the smartphone — where the processing takes place — via Bluetooth.”

When the project was in prototyping, Gohil said that the response was so great from people who saw it that the team decided Square Off could be a product that would appeal to a far broader audience than they had originally intended.

He even has plans for expanding the concept in the future.

“We want to make it possible to replace the top surface of the board so users can play additional board games, other than chess,” he said. “That could be achieved simply by updating the app. That’s our long-term vision — to revolutionize the whole board gaming world.”

Having already hit 200 percent of its original Kickstarter target, you can currently pre-order Square Off at a special early bird price of 179 euros, plus shipping. The first units are expected to start shipping in April 2017.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Illuminated keyboards and a retro gaming console

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Gaming

Microsoft’s Project Scarlett: Everything we know about the next-gen game console

Microsoft is designing the successor to the Xbox One: Project Scarlett. Here is everything we know about the next-gen console, including its rumored release window and support for older Xbox consoles' games.
Movies & TV

Who needs sunshine? Stay inside and watch the best movies on Netflix instead

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Gaming

Get Nindie with it and check out these awesome indie games for the Switch

The Nintendo Switch's portability makes indies feel at home on the platform. Luckily, there are plenty of great titles to choose from. Here are our picks for the best Nintendo Switch indie games.
Emerging Tech

The U.K.’s biggest (and only) asteroid mining company has designs on our skies

Is the founder and CEO of the U.K.'s Asteroid Mining Corporation going to be among the first people to strike it rich in space, or is he just chasing an ambitious but doomed mirage?
Emerging Tech

Tiny galaxy has huge black hole at its center, gives clues to galactic evolution

A Hubble image shows a tiny galaxy which could hold the clue to unraveling a longstanding question about the evolution of galaxies. Despite its small size, it hosts a feature found in much larger galaxies -- a supermassive black hole.
Emerging Tech

Dark matter galaxy crashed into the Milky Way, causing the ripples in its disk

New research suggests hundreds of million of years ago, the Milky Way collided with Antlia 2, a nearby dwarf galaxy dominated by dark matter. The collision caused ripples in the disk of gas around the Milky Way which we still observe today.
Emerging Tech

Uranus’ rings shine brightly but hold a puzzle for astronomers

New images reveal the rings around Uranus, which are almost invisible to most telescopes. But there's a strange puzzle about them -- why they don't contain any small dust-sized particles.
Emerging Tech

U.S. Navy is working on making its fleet invisible to computerized surveillance

The U.S. Navy’s ever-innovative Office of Naval Research is working on a way to turn the United States military fleet invisible. Well, to cutting-edge image-recognition systems, at least.
News

Apple’s new Seattle campus may mean big things for Siri, artificial intelligence

Apple plans to hire 2,000 more employees for a new Seattle campus, the company announced Monday, with a significant number of those jobs focused on Siri and artificial intelligence.
Emerging Tech

How to watch SpaceX’s most difficult Falcon Heavy launch ever

SpaceX will launch a Falcon Heavy rocket Monday evening in its most challenging launch yet. The launch is scheduled for Monday June 24 at 8:30 p.m. PT, but is dependent on weather conditions. You can watch NASA's livestream with coverage…
Emerging Tech

SpaceX launches Falcon Heavy but loses core booster in crash landing

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy blazed spectacularly through the Florida sky early Tuesday local time as the world’s largest operational rocket embarked on its third and most challenging mission to date.
Emerging Tech

Self-assembling microrobots can be programmed to form a tiny steerable car

A new type of self-assembling mobile micromachine can be programmed to assemble into different formations -- ranging from a tiny car to a miniature rocket. Here's why that's so exciting.
Emerging Tech

Swish! Toyota’s basketball bot earns a Guinness record with 2,020 perfect throws

A basketball-shooting robot built by Toyota just picked up a Guinness World Record for successfully sinking 2,020 baskets in a row without ever missing a shot. Check it out in action.