Scrabble is usually a pretty intimate game, played by bookish people who want to show off their command of English vocabulary. But if you're a competitor at the Prague Mind Sports Festival Scrabble Championship, the Scrabble world wants to study every word you lay down right as it happens.
To make that happen, Mind Sports International has come up with the world's most advanced Scrabble board, which uploads every move directly to the Internet.
The $32,000 board is stuffed with electronics, and uses special letter tiles embedded with RFID tags. Sensors under each square on the board read the tags, and score words instantly as they're put down. The information is then uploaded in real time to a website for fans following the game.
That's all very cool, but I see lots of potential for abuse here. I wonder how hard it would be for a competitor to rig up his own RFID scanner that can read what tiles his opponent is holding? It also seems like it might not be too hard to rig up a computer that could read the board, then suggest the best word to lay down based on what letters are in your rack.
Even with the finest players locked in battle there are bound to be dull stretches in the action, so the Mind Sports board is also equipped with an LED lighting system to liven things up. What's not clear is how the light show is going to be translated to the online version streaming from the board. If you're eager to find out, tune in when the Prague tournament opens on December 1.