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The world's most high-tech (and expensive) Scrabble board


November 19, 2012

Mind Sports International has developed a £20,000 (about US$31,800) Scrabble board that uses RFID chips to detect each tile and transmit the data online

Mind Sports International has developed a £20,000 (about US$31,800) Scrabble board that uses RFID chips to detect each tile and transmit the data online

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With its basic game board and lettered tiles, Scrabble is about as low-tech of a game as you can get. But that hasn't stopped Mind Sports International from giving the game's iconic board a 21st century upgrade. For the company's upcoming festival in Prague, a new Scrabble board was built that uses RFID chips in each tile to detect where each letter is placed and transmit the data online almost instantly.

On the surface, the new board looks about the same as any other, but the raised platform houses some fairly sophisticated tracking technology. All 100 letter tiles contain a unique RFID tag, while nine circuit boards connected to 225 RFID antennas – one for each square on the board – monitor where each letter is placed.

The players' tile racks also contain RFID sensors, and scanning the play area for each tile takes about 974 milliseconds. Once the information is collected, some custom software translates it into a graphical display that pairs HD footage of each player with their score and stats. Aside from the addition of RFID chips, the new board also has a couple of cosmetic upgrades in the form of color-changing LED lights and a carbon fiber finish.

Mind Sports International hopes the upgraded board will bring a little style to the traditional word game and resonate with viewers both at the tournament and online. With the new graphics, Scrabble fans will now be able to instantly see what words and score each player has, while also guessing what the players' next moves will be.

Before you go rushing out to create your own RFID-enabled Scrabble board though, you should know that Mind Sports spent over £20,000 (about US$31,800) constructing the new board, along with months' worth of testing. Might be best to just stick with an old-fashioned pen and paper for keeping score at your home games.

MSI's high-tech Scrabble board will debut at the Prague Mind Sports Festival, which runs from December 1-4.

Source: Prague Mind Sports Festival

About the Author
Jonathan Fincher Jonathan grew up in Norway, China, and Trinidad before graduating film school and becoming an online writer covering green technology, history and design, as well as contributing to video game news sites like Filefront and 1Up. He currently resides in Texas, where his passions include video games, comics, and boring people who don't want to talk about either of those things. All articles by Jonathan Fincher

"scanning the play area for each tile takes about 974 milliseconds"

So that's ABOUT a second then!


Ouch! All three of those "words" are illegal.

Clark Brooks

Great, now my nerd opponent can scan my tiles in my rack and know exactly what letters I have to play next. I love scrabble though, and I love this board, that was just tongue in cheek.

Paul Anthony
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