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.
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