If you like playing chess with physical pieces, but would rather not dirty your hands to do so, MagicChess presents a great alternative. The device works under voice control, allowing users to command pieces on the board, similar to something from Harry Potter.
While the setup may look magical, what’s going on is “simply” a matter of coordinated electronics and actuators that would have been the realm of science fiction — or at least quite expensive and bulky — just a few years ago. The device uses Google Cloud for speech recognition, and the Stockfish chess engine running on a Raspberry Pi to compete with a human opponent. For physical control, Marlin software is implemented on an Arduino. While normally used with 3D printing applications, it’s modified here to slide chess pieces around via a gantry system under the board.
You can see the system in action in the video below, making a few basic opening moves, and apparently using magnets below the table to slide pieces around. Movements are cleverly coordinated so as to thread pieces between each other, making moves such as a knight “jumping” a pawn possible by squeezing though on the borders of each square. Unmoved pieces can then remain undisturbed in the middle, ready for their next action!