Impinj RFID Powers Pennzoil and Nintendo’s SXSW Mario Kart Racing Experience

March 26, 2014 Lea DeJarlais

real-life go-kart powered  y RFID

This year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival featured a racing experience inspired by the popular Nintendo franchise Mario Kart Racing. Pennzoil, a SXSW sponsor, teamed up with Nintendo to create Mario Karting Reimagined: A real-life go-kart race powered by RFID.

To start, racers picked which character they wanted to race as (Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach or Bowser) and were assigned to a go-kart. The race attendant then linked the go-cart to the racer by scanning the racer’s RFID-enabled bracelet and the go-kart’s RFID tag. Each go-kart, outfitted with a video camera, wireless router, and a UHF RFID tag, streamed racing footage to the command center where Mario Kart animations were added to the video and then broadcasted on large screens around the track.


Ten Impinj Speedway® Revolution readers were installed around the race course, and represented “power-ups” found in the video game. Five of the readers were represented as Pennzoil decals on the track. After a racer passed over a combination of these decals five times, their speed was boosted from 25mph to 35mph. Two of the readers were represented by Mario icons, which would reduce the go-karts speed after passing by the readers. A worker watching the race manually increased or reduced each player’s speed accordingly after the software indicated that he or she had passed specific icons. One reader was represented by an anti-gravity icon, which would make the racers appear upside down on the video screen. The final two readers were placed on each side of the finish line. The readers were able to capture race information at speeds of up to 35mph.

After the race, participants were emailed a video of their race to share with friends via Facebook and Twitter.

The Jimmy Kimmel Live show broadcasted from Austin during the SXSW festival and got in on the Mario Kart racing action by sending their security guard Guillermo to race the track dressed as Mario.

Watch the Jimmy Kimmel Live Pennzoil Mario Karting Reimagined Video

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