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Augmented reality spider robots are finally here

Augmented reality spider robots are finally here

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Now that AR is a big deal, we have to decide what it's for. Is it for trippy Snapchat filters? Serious business stuff? Children? Or maybe it's for simulating warfare between spider robots.

I'll take "all of the above," thanks.

MekaMon is a new $329 robot you control with your phone. When viewed through the phone's screen the robot inhabits a virtual battlefield, and can fight virtual opponents with missiles and lasers. There's even a backstory and "Mekamon Universe" to tie it all together.

There's also a two-player mode, where you battle another MekaMon without AR, which is obviously the best part. The bots can be customized with different snap-on components (sold separately), which also change the bot's capabilities. During a fight the bots "level up" and can get new abilities and virtual items, sort of like League of Legends but, you know, with real-life robots.

The four legged robots scuttle quite rapidly, and the advertised hour of battery life is impressive for a "toy," although the $329 price tag pushes this past the typical toy range. There's also a $599 "Ultimate Battle Pack" that comes with two robots, which I suppose is a bit of a deal.

MekaMon is built by Reach Robotics, and it's the company's first product after three years of work. The first 500 bots will ship in a "limited edition" on January 2017, and then the bot will be available for general sale in June of next year. It's available for preorder now.