Interactive LEGO in years to come?

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The_Mack in the forum has uncovered quite an interesting article:

A newly revealed partnership seeks to bring the interactivity of Sony's video games to the world of Lego's physical bricks and characters. At a 25th anniversary open house for Sony's Computer Science Laboratories in Japan, the companies showed off Toy Alive, a prototype project that uses simple Lego bricks with embedded microchips that can be controlled with a PC or a DualShock gamepad.

The Toy Alive team is currently showing off a tiny, remote-controlled platform that can be controlled with a DualShock gamepad to play a chase game monitored by a webcam and computer software. Other bricks use translucent red plastic and built-in, computer-controlled LEDs to make a Lego house look like it's on fire or to activate an actuator that causes Lego models to explode into pieces. The team is even experimenting with tiny wireless cameras that can give a minifig-eye view of a scene for a bit of augmented reality.

Lego has long supported interactivity in its toys through its Mindstorms line of robotics aimed at programmers and students. But with Toy Alive, the team is trying to "keep the pieces small and simple so that children can use them with other toys," according to associate researcher Alexis Andre, who has been working on the project for about a year. "It's a mixture of video games and toys, and how do you make toys more interactive? How do you provide a platform for the children to do whatever they want to do?"

It's all still in the prototype phase for now, and it looks like any products to come out of this effort are still at least a few years away from your local toy shop. In the meantime, there's always the other merger of Lego and video game technology.

It's certainly an interesting idea, and I'm sure it will serve to provoke thought among the fan community - what would you like for the future? Do you think LEGO will/will need to expand into interactive bricks, or should it keep to its roots?

I for one am certainly excited at the possibility of LED and camera enabled bricks, although there's still a long way to go in terms of battery safety and affordability...

Thanks to The_Mack for posting this in the forum.

36 comments on this article

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By in United States,

O_O

First thought: AAAAOOOOOGAH!
Second thought: Hmmmmm.
Third thought: AAAAOOOGAH!
Fourth thought: Maybe.

I don't know. It's either the dumbest thing Lego has thought of since Galidor, or the best thing since Bionicle. Hm.

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By in Netherlands,

That tree thing was fun.

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By in United States,

You know, if they make anything they should make little remote-control minifigs with cameras on them, so you can explore MOCs.

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By in United Kingdom,

It sounds very interesting, and I love the idea of being able to control models as described, and cameras within models would be fantastic, just as long as such features do not compromise the appearance of models.

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By in Norway,

OMG, I would love this! Especially the LED-fire-bricks and bricks with cameras. (I really miss the Light&Sound-era)

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By in Canada,

If they can do that, how about flying and/or exploding Star Wars ships and vehicles? (I don't know, maybe I'm being too unrealistic.)

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By in United States,

Negative. Bad idea. Stick to the roots.

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By in United States,

I was just having this conversation with a friend the other day. He said that lego was great and all, but he just didnt think that it would appeal as much to the next generation. I sent him this artical and he replied "I am glad to see this, but it just does not appeal to me. I feel that if this were to pe produced, it would be directed at people at 8+. That is too late, by that time, they have already entered the time warp of the video game world and have moved on from plastic bricks. They should aim it for younger kids so that when they get their first Wii or xbox, that is one of the first things that they will use. Being one of the first things that they use, they will most likely use it again." I have to agree with some of what he says. I see 4 year olds with i touches and 3 year olds with iPads that they can barley carry. I even have a cousin who plays HALO at the age of 3. (I do not agree with how his parents parent him) lego needs to reach out to the younger audience to get there attention at a young age.

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By in United States,

^Wow, poor cousin. He's going to turn out rotten if something doesn't change, and quick.

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By in United States,

One of the reasons LEGO appeals to me is because, in its basic form, there is no electronic aspect.

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By in United Kingdom,

I think what make Lego so great is that it is just building blocks. You start with a pile of parts and only your imagination holds you back. This is why it is such a success.

I think next generation light and sound bricks are the best way to go. Imagine Star wars ships and playsets with real sampled sound bricks and light up features. Now that would get me going :-D

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By in United States,

Oh yes, I remember reading about this a few days ago. I do find it interesting the LEGO is trying to make sure video games do not step on the sales of physical sets at all. After all, LEGO has certainly produced its own fair share of virtual LEGO experiences all the way back to an (unreleased) game for the Vic 20.

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By in United States,

I like Legos the way they are and I wouldn't want them being combined with technological things... We have video games for that. I mean remote control fine, light up fine, sound making fine, but other than that I don't think Lego needs much else. After all Lego is about imagining isn't it?

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By in United States,

@lego613master - I would love to explore my creations thru the eyes of a minifig.

I would also love to see an Occulus Rift style virtual lego world where you can lift and build your own lego blocks to create life size lego cities, space bases, castles, mazes, etc...

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By in United States,

^Yes, and yes! Actually, LU had a kind of a "lift and build your own lego blocks to create life size lego cities, space bases, castles, mazes, etc..." thing like that.

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By in United States,

I would look at this as an alternative to doing something different with LEGO. Not something to replace the sets we all love. This is more along the lines of a gameplay version of mindstorms, or a possible way of interactive game designing. This won't be for everyone, but it allows for new experiences.

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By in United States,

It would be awesome if we ended up with bricks for Star Wars ships that make sounds when you swoosh them.

No more sounding like a weirdo when swooshing your TIE-Fighter. :P

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By in United States,

I hope they make a robotic minifigure.

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By in United States,

I'm not against Lego trying new things. I was a bit surprised that supposedly Lego is worried about kids being more into video games and less into Lego. It's not like video games are a new phenomenon. They've been around since the late 70s. I also seem to remember Lego having the exact same fear just before Mindstorms launched 15 years ago, yet Lego is more popular now than ever. I do agree with many others that bringing back Light & Sound would be sweet! What about fiber optics? Those were so awesome!!!

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By in Australia,

Im not against it persay, they can do what they want, and I dont ever see it overtaking the core business. But it doesnt appeal to me, just like many themes dont, so no skin off my back

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By in United States,

I like the concept of adding interactivity and functionality to models without having a giant NXT brick or a confusing programming interface, but I'd like to see the idea fleshed out a bit more and a few realistic implementations of the technology before I can support or disapprove of it.

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By in United States,

This gives me the chills!!!!!!! :-o This may be the creepiest thing LEGO may do or I could have a battle of the Pelenor Fields on my floor where all my figs can fight. Mmmmmmmmm.... I will give this some though. But I love the old stile of LEGO.

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By in United States,

The big problem with Lego wars is you can only control a max of 8 minifigs at a time (One between each finger :P). If they made minifigs that can walk, that would be awesome.

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By in United States,

Some of these things have already been implemented. At the end of the video they showed someone scanning a box and seeing additional information. At the Lego Store in NYC, they have scanners just like this. The camera recognizes the image and shows animated videos of the playability features.

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By in Canada,

Lego worried about potentially losing sales to Video Games?! With Lego already involved in the Video Game Industry and the sales of Lego going strong at the moment I don't believe they have anything to lose (but you never know). Lego is timeless.

Viva Lego!

I personally think this is a good idea if say were integrated with something like Star Wars or Chima, however I would hate to see this dominate the Lego market.

@terfsten - I'd check up on the word "Legos" (pretty sure its Lego Bricks to be correct) :)

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By in United States,

Interesting, although I think it's unnecessary.
^, actually, "LEGO".

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By in Indonesia,

Mr. Green; You think a 3-year old playing Halo is bad? Here, I know some 3-7 year old kids who play Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas regularly. Sadly, they're not the only ones...How disturbing, no?

As about this...Personally, I think making Brickfilms will be much easier, and more awesome!

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By in United Kingdom,

Interactivity is always good for robot building.

Watching that video though gives me an idea. Stick one of those "chase me" bricks up a cat's butt and let a lego model chase it round the house. Exercise for house bound pets.

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By in Denmark,

LEGO Universe basicly did all this and more, how about just making a new LEGO Creator game like that. The reason why I wanted LEGO Universe was because you could build, and explore the models as a minifigure. Digital LEGO doesn't collect dust or get damaged, either.

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By in United States,

@SI Builder - you knew what I meant though :)

I admit some of this stuff sounds pretty cool but I just wouldn't want it to overtake the main things that make Lego Lego. Imagining the life in them is what it's all about isn't it? We don't need too much to make them more realistic but you can go too far to where the imagination isn't there so much anymore.

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By in United States,

@fikko3107,
just sad, so sad. . .

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By in United Kingdom,

No, No. I knew this would happen...but not NOW! Why does everything have to be dragged into technology??? LEGO, STOP THIS NOW!

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By in United States,

This has similar potential to Power Functions or Mindstorms. I don't see why there is such fan hate about it, this is just Mindstorms transferred into System style parts. The MOC possibilities from this will be awesome.

Just as long as I don't have to buy a Playstation to use my Lego sets I will be fine!

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By in Puerto Rico,

Terminator is coming man, followed by the Reapers and then extinction.

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By in Israel,

Totally want :)

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By in United Kingdom,

I fridge that only opens when you smile, now that's what I call technological advancement!!

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