TL;DR: Independent evidence suggests the board does not (yet) exist; the makers themselves describe the hardware as "very advanced, between 65% and 70%". The company behind Regium has failed to refute claims that it's a scam, despite having a financial incentive to do so and despite companies and reporters reaching out. They have also engaged in multiple unprofessional and deceptive practices (e.g. fake employees).
The KickStarter has now been suspended:
Funding for this project was suspended by Kickstarter about 7 hours ago
KickStarter, ~2 March, 2020
I'll try to answer my own question. Let's begin with...
*** The chess board probably doesn't (yet) exist...
1. High-quality video manipulation
In one of the earlier YouTube videos, there's evidence that it was modified:
Analysis of the video shows signs of possible editing, leading to suspicion that this was in fact a video achieved by "stop motion" and then edited. Stop motion video is achieved by taking an individual photo, moving objects by hand, then taking the next frame of the video. As shown in the screenshot below, you can see the outline of the knight appears to change at different points in the video.
Regium: Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence, LiChess.org (emphasis mine) (see also Chess.com)
It is noteworthy that the evidence is subtle and easy to miss. This suggests that whoever is behind Regium is capable of high-quality video manipulation. There are multiple videos now (I haven't been able to keep track), and to my knowledge, manipulation has only been detected in the early ones. Regium responded:
We simply have no experience editing videos. Currently the hardware is very advanced, between 65% and 70%. But, this video has more than two months, at that time the prototype was less developed and every time we filmed, we had problems with the auto-center feature, sometimes it centered the next door piece or both at the same time. We did not want to show inopportune movements because it would have confused to the viewer and generated questions or wrong opinions.
REGIUM · Clarifications, YouTube (0:36) (emphasis mine) (A similar claim is made in REGIUM · FAQs · Automatic Chess e-Board around 4:00.)
The video above compares side-by-side the published video against the "original", and thereby acknowledges video editing.
These videos could be considered to be a high-tech mock up. However, the advertisements have consistently indicated that it exists. Indeed, the current video on KickStarter shows it being played live:
The Chess.com forum gives a screenshot of a Facebook conversation:
The video is real. The video shows our prototype, which is very advanced in hardware and not so much in software. The Kickstarter campaign is mainly for software development and serial e-Boards production.
The boards shown in promotional videos are manufactured by Spanish company Rechapados Ferrer. A representative of the company has indicated that the boards pictured in the videos have not been modified by Rechapados Ferrer with any components that would allow for the technology presented in those videos. They also confirm that they have not collaborated with REGIUM on the modification process of these boards.
Update On REGIUM Chess, Chess.com (emphasis mine)
2. A tiny $US 50,000 KickStarter
Virtually by definition, a KickStarter campaign implies it's unfinished. If it were finished, you could start up a business, as normal.
Chess players know this, but for the non-chess readers, this is a shut up and take my money-level product (a recent report claims the well-known DGT is developing such a board). Many chess tournaments have small marketplaces alongside, so they could sell it at basically any chess tournament anywhere in the world, and get free advertising as people discuss it on YouTube and web forums.
It is also noteworthy that $US 50,000 is a tiny amount for a product that's listed as having a $US 1,300+ MSRP. (The KickStarter is all or nothing.)
There's also skepticism (on LiChess forums) around the feasibility of a board with large numbers of electromagnets being impossibly thin and cheap; have smooth movement; and whether electromagnets inherently prevent some purported functionality:
Experts consider it extremely questionable whether an integrated battery, WLAN receiver, Bluetooth, automatic figure recognition in the immediate vicinity of dozen electromagnets would work. ... It is likely that Regium still has no solution to these problems. (Google Translate)
Schormann, Wirbel um das Wunderbrett (in German)
3. Seeming inability to respond to claims the board is fake
There have been multiple attempts to get Regium to demonstrate their board is real, which have been unmet:
In order to dispel any concerns about the product, we welcome Regium to provide more open and live demos in order to substantiate these claims. When approached for comment, chess.com stated that they have already made such a request directly to Regium on Thursday of this week but this has yet to receive a response. chess24 has also been approached for comment and we will update when we receive a response.
Regium: Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence, LiChess.org (emphasis mine)
I also encourage Regium to give verifiable evidence that the board is real as an answer to this question.
*** Unprofessional, deceptive company behavior...
The listed company is High Tech Dynamics which was registered in Florida in 1991 (see Bizapedia or Sunbiz).
1. Falsified employees
LiChess forums uncovered evidence that employee images are generated from ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com, and this has since been verified by both header information and:
Phil Wang, from the site thispersondoesnotexist.com, which uses AI technology to generate faces of individuals who do not exist, ... "From my experience, it does appear to be from the released model from Nvidia," Wang said. "I can tell mainly from the distortions around the glasses, as well as the artifacts in the background."
Update On REGIUM Chess, Chess.com (emphasis mine)
LiChess reports these images have since been modified, but are available through Chess.com's screenshot (and the Internet Archive).
2. Deceptive advertising
In the most recent New in Chess magazine, Regium quotes both ChessBase as saying "Impressive!" and chess24.com as saying "It's amazing!" so that the reader would infer that these well-known companies are referring to Regium. They have subsequently denied this:
We don't have anything to do with that. We haven't seen the board or given a quote.
No blessing or quotes given
3. Comment flooding on the KickStarter page
People (some from LiChess) were adding comments to the KickStarter page declaring it's a scam. The Creator HighTech Dynamics, Inc. responded by posting lengthy comments (e.g. this), and resulted in a comment battle. The comments were moderated while I was asleep last night, and now duplicates are removed.
4. Unsubstantiated claims the board is compatible with popular chess sites
From the Regium page:
Play against your favourite chess programs and engines. Regium e-Boards are supported by the most important chess platforms: : Chess24.com; Chess.com; Lichess.org; ChessBase; ICC; FICS
Regium chess (German)
(LiChess reports this used to list Chess Cube, which no longer exists.)
However, I'm not aware of this being independently confirmed by any of these sites, and Chess.com has denied collaboration:
I clarify that while we are not working together, this could be an amazing chessboard, and we have talked about working together, though we have not seen the board, nor have we created APIs to support it working on our site.
Chess.com founder erik, chess.com forum (emphasis mine)
(Cf. Square Off (Magic Automated Chessboard!) Update where erik sits down and plays with a Square Off automated chess board, and it's KickStarter campaign.)
No es un hecho 100% pero es un objetivo muy plausible. Tenemos conversaciones muy avanzadas con Chess24 y Chess.com, menos avanzadas con otras plataformas.
It is not a 100% fact but it is a very plausible goal. We have very advanced conversations with Chess24 and Chess.com, less advanced with other platforms. (Google Translate)
Angel Delgado, ChessCC.com
LiChess claims a forum user with a positive opinion of Regium is a sockpuppet for user @REGIUMCHESS.
LiChess reports being legally threatened; I transcribe their screenshot:
Your forum has several threads defame us, accusing us of fraud and criminal behavior. This is in the hands of our lawyers, you have 24 hours to eliminate all defamation and write a public apologies, otherwise we will take all legal measures to claim damages for allowing this in your forum.
You are notified.
Alex, Marketing Manager, REGIUM TEAM
Chess.com reports Alfonso Belcells was falsely listed as an employee:
Alfonso Belcells, who is labeled as a Full Stack Developer for REGIUM, has indicated to Chess.com that he is not associated with the company in any way and has not been associated with them.
Regium claims to have handmade pieces (which are expensive), however all evidence indicates the pieces are not hand-carved (of those depicted, one is the Ulbrich set, the other you can see at many chess tournaments).
Elegant wooden chess board with magnificent African wood and European maple. Maple and Ebony Pieces. Deluxe pieces handmade ...
Boxwood pieces. Staunton pieces, handmade
*** Professional entities distancing themselves from Regium...
chess24 recently ended a sponsorship agreement with Regium Chess, which claims to be developing an automated electronic chessboard. We urge any potential backers of the related Kickstarter project to exercise extreme caution and first verify any claims made about a board which may well be “too good to be true”.
After completing the process of due diligence that is required when partnering with a third-party product, we have continued our research and interactions with REGIUM and have not been able to verify some of the claims made by the company.
News articles appearing to be withdrawn from Gadgetify, Robotic Gizmos, and iPhoneness.
Sadly, all evidence now points to a sophisticated scam complete with a Kickstarter set to attract cash on February 25.