LEGO Mindstorm EV3 creation (via The Scooter Guy/Flickr)
We all knew it was going to happen.
Legos first introduced Mindstorms back in 1998. However, their robotic kits aimed for children has grew from much more than what it once was. At this year's CES, LEGO had on display small robots, made from Legos of course, which can be controlled from smart phones through an app and also include a couple of sensors to make them more interactive. NXT, the most recent Mindstorms kit to hit the market allowed Android devices to talk to the Legos, however, Apple devices were left out.
The new robotics kit is a 594-piece kit that will not be available until the second half of this year. However, the kit is going to be worth the wait for kids and parents alike. There is 17 different robots that can be created using the set, all centered around the brain box, a small box which houses the ARM9 processor running on Linux OS. Furthermore, they have also integrated bluetooth connectivity into the kit. The addition of bluetooth is the tech that allows the robot to talk to smart phones or tablets, and this time Apple was not left out. Using either Android or Apple devices these robots could be navigated around a room all through an app; and for the kids who will not have access to a phone there is also an IR remote that can be used as a controller.
Additional upgrades include: WiFi connectivity, SD card slot for additional storage, and an IR sensor.
The addition of an IR sensor can make the robots more interactive than ever and give kids a good idea of how sensors work. One robot on display at CES, the snake robot, uses the sensor to detect when someone's hand is near, in which it will then snap at them (playfully of course). Lego has also worked upon improving their motors in the kit. Two motors included in the kit feature dual output for double the appendages, while another smaller one is faster and capable of shooting out objects.
I think this has to be one of the coolest Lego kits ever. However, the price tag of $349.99 may keep some kids from getting their hands on it. On the other hand, we may find more parents interested in these kits and more adults buying Legos “for their kids” than ever before. Lego is also looking to get these out and into schools for learning. Different versions of Mindstorm may be available for middle schools and high schools in which Lego would like to make available a customizable curriculum. What it would be like to be a kid again!