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Sony and Lego team up to add life to Lego bricks

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May 30, 2013

Sony and Lego team up to add life to Lego bricks

Sony and Lego team up to add life to Lego bricks

Concerned that youngsters are showing a preference for video games at the expense of traditional toys, Lego has reportedly teamed up with the enemy, partnering with Sony to develop prototype Lego bricks embedded with electronics that they’ve dubbed “Toy Alive.”

Revealed at an open house marking the 25th anniversary of the Sony Computer Science Laboratories in Tokyo, the next-gen Lego bricks are embedded with various electronics that gives them different capabilities that are designed to make them more interactive.

Some are motorized and can be remotely controlled via a PlayStation controller while a computer-controlled Lego vehicle gives chase, others include actuators that allow Lego creations to be destroyed via remote, while others contain built-in cameras that allow a real-time, Lego-eye view to be transmitted to a tablet or smartphone.

Squeezing the electronics into the tiny bricks means that battery life is an issue, as is accurate tracking of the various electronic-embedded components. So it is unlikely the prototype Lego bricks will see a commercial release anytime soon, if at all.

Other technologies on show included a small quadrocopter that is controlled by the physical head movements of a person wearing a head-mounted display. Vision captured by a camera on the quadrocopter is transmitted to the head-mounted display, providing the user with a real-time, quadrocopter-eye view.

The Japan Times shot this video, which shows the Toy Alive Lego, quadrocopter, and other technologies under development.

Sources: The Japan Times, Network World

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
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5 Comments

Loss of interest in Lego has nothing to do with its ridiculous pricing then? Or perhaps the loss of creativity because most of the sets are now single-purpose, containing much less generic bricks?

JuMo
30th May, 2013 @ 02:36 am PDT

http://shop.lego.com/en-US/Pick-A-Brick-11998

One can still get bags of Lego's at the site. I think it is a problem with the young being so pre-occupied with video games and the internet that games like this seem to lose interest with them.

I like Lego's since it is limited only by ones imagination. It does seem that so much of what Lego has does seem propiaterry to a certain theme.

I think this would be really cool. It might be expensive or something that is for the future because of cost and / or technology.

BigWarpGuy
30th May, 2013 @ 06:08 am PDT

@JuMo, that's actually an interesting point. The price of lego has actually decreased on a per brick basis since the 80's. Please see the following for an interesting analysis:

http://therealityprose.wordpress.com/2013/01/17/what_happened_with_lego/

Otiose
30th May, 2013 @ 07:51 am PDT

@JuMo,

Whilst there are many 'single purpose' sets out there, the challenge is (as it has always been) to find innovative uses for otherwise single purpose parts. And there continues to be sets, especially the Creator line, that come with mostly 'multi-purpose' parts that can foster a child's imagination- sets emphasise 'brick built' constructions rather than using lots of specialised parts.

Further, Lego's controversial 'Friends' line, aimed at girls, has made a break from previous Barbie-esque Lego for girls sets which used far too many single purpose parts which had limited compatibility with 'system Lego', and now uses regular Lego pieces (albeit with a handful of pink and other 'girlie' colours) but with unique dolls (it was found that girls tend to prefer playing with doll-like mannequins rather than the smaller Lego 'minifigs'). So it is possible to combine Friends with normal Lego to expand the building possibilities. There has been criticism in parts of the media for its 'girlie focus', but I think anything that gets girls into playing with Lego is a good thing.

You are not wrong in your comments, but what Lego offers these days is a vast amount of choice in the set types, and so the building experience can be tailored to the child's interest- many kids don't want to use their imaginations to build their own creations and it was ever thus- back in the 70s such kids simply didn't bother playing with Lego at all, where as now they might be encouraged to if the set is focussed on something that they are interested in- eg Teenage Ninja Turtles.

bergamot69
30th May, 2013 @ 08:11 am PDT

Battery life should be fine - my R/C helicopter's rechargeable battery is already 1/4 the size of a little 2x4 brick, and stuff like bluetooth/sensors/etc would use 100x less juice than my chopper.

Heck - maybe they should release a tiny 2x4 battery-brick... let users plug as many as needed onto the smart-bricks, and maybe make it inductive-rechargeable too, so dispense with all those annoying and fragile wires (and, btw lego, please gold-plate your contacts, I live near the sea, and I'm so fed up with connections never working!!!!)

Beats me why lego prices are so insane.

christopher
30th May, 2013 @ 10:52 pm PDT
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