Right in time for Hour of Code Week 2019, Mattel is launching a new educational dimension to one of this year’s hottest holiday toy launches, Hot Wheels id. Hot Wheels id melds physical and digital play using NFC-enabled Hot Wheels cars to allow kids to test their cars in a virtual environment, including speed challenges and track building.
Mattel announced a brand new coding experience within Apple’s Swift Playground that allows your child to scan their physical Hot Wheels car in order to take it on a digital coding adventure where they’ll learn coding skills that will help enhance the adventure. In order to start, you’ll need Mattel’s Hot Wheels id Smart Track Kit, or a Race Portal, which Mattel kindly sent me to check out. The Smart Track Kit sells for $179.99 at most major retailers, including Amazon and even Apple.
Hot Wheels id is like the Hot Wheels I grew up playing with but on Internet-connected steroids. The cars themselves are similar, but the digital experience is totally new and exciting. Now you can measure and clock speed, count laps, and measure distance traveled on your tracks. Each car uses wireless technology that stores the vehicle’s performance data and makes them uniquely identifiable. Plus, whatever you do in the physical play experience enables you to earn power-ups to use in the digital iOS arcade.
Check out this great overview video from Mattel on Hot Wheels id:
The Hot Wheels Race Portal scans your Hot Wheels id cars into the app in order to track speeds and count laps via infrared sensors. The Race Portal can even connect to your classic Hot Wheels tracks and comes with two exclusive Hot Wheels id vehicles.
The Hot Wheels id Smart Track Kit features a new track design that’s made to boost speed and enhance racing, jumping, and crashing. The Smart Track Kit comes with the fastest booster Hot Wheels has ever made, so you know you’ll be breaking records. Plus, the kit comes with two Hot Wheels id vehicles as well as the Race Portal.
The Hot Wheels id App plays host to your virtual garage of vehicles to collect, race, and compete. You can also compete in hundreds of challenges and digital races to keep the entertainment going strong. The Smart Track Kit comes with 16 assorted track pieces, a Race Portal, and two Hot Wheels id cars. With the Smart Track Kit, you can create 20+ track configurations, which will provide your family hours of fun.
The new coding dimension to the Hot Wheels id app works in partnership with Swift Playground, Apple’s easy-to-learn programming language. You take part in an adventure to find your stolen Hot Wheels cars while going through coding challenges to advance. Each chapter is a different scene and puzzle for which they’ll need to use their Swift programming skills to solve. You’ll need a recent iPad that’s compatible with Swift Playground.
Within the Hot Wheels id Swift Playground, you’ll use your coding knowledge to find hidden tokens and passwords in augmented reality in order to progress through the scenes. This is the biggest innovation in Hot Wheels’ 51-year history and it’s a fun way to learn coding from the ground up. If I was able to sit down with it and spend more time learning, I feel like this would absolutely be a fun way to learn the Swift programming language. This is a great way for young kids to get an introduction do the world of coding through the Hot Wheels ecosystem.
The Hot Wheels id Smart Track Kit itself is a ton of fun; it brought me back to my childhood while setting it up, building tracks, and jumping cars. The booster is a lot of fun because you can see the light inside glowing bright blue when you’re up to speed but go red if you’re going too fast. And believe me, it’s very easy to go too fast! There were plenty of times where we accidentally revved the booster up into the red and the cars flew off the track and may or may not have dented a while. The booster that comes with the Smart Track Kit doubles as a Race Portal, allowing you to scan your Hot Wheels id cars into the app, where you can keep track of your lap times, top speed, and more while also “leveling up” your car.
The smart track pieces are all interconnected using USB ports, which I assume carries power and data back and forth between the race portal and finish line. The race portal contains the battery and Bluetooth connectivity, which is how you can sync your track with your iPhone or iPad. The track pieces themselves are very sturdy and will hold up to years of use, and will even stand up to a younger sibling’s abuse. Even the loop is well-built and will not be easily broken.
The free Hot Wheels id app is fully featured and includes many different play features between open play with your connected smart track, digital games using the physical cars that you’ve unlocked, and even a completely digital experience where you can race Hot Wheels cars just like a video game. The app is fun and a nice compliment to the physical experience. There is a lot of fun digital content available on the app, though you’ll want to consider how much “screen time” you’ll want your kids to be having.
Check out the following gallery of screenshots from the Hot Wheels id iOS app:
Hot Wheels id and the complementary Swift Playground coding experience are a fun new advance in playtime technology. The mixing if physical and digital play is a nice touch, and I know that Hot Wheels id is going to be a hot holiday gift this year. Once you add the educational opportunities provided by the Swift Playground coding experience, it’s a no brainer if your kid is interested in racing cars.
The Hot Wheels id Smart Track Kit sells for $179.99, and it is available from many retailers including Amazon [affiliate link].
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample
What I Like: Fun to build different tracks; Hot Wheels id cars have neat designs that kids will love; Physical and digital experiences; Educational coding experience; Hours of family fun
What Needs Improvement: Cars can easily jump off the track if boosted too much, maybe there’s a way to prevent over-boosting