Lego unveiled its new building set at the ongoing CES 2017 in Las Vegas Nevada. However, this year, the bricks can be programed using “Lego Boost.” The programmable robotic kit that’s quite different from Lego Mindstorms neatly combines building blocks with sensors, motors, and app control to introduce young minds to the basics of programming and help them unleash their creativity in robotics.
Lego has significantly upped its appeal with Lego Boost, a robotic kit quite unlike Lego Mindstorms that the company has been selling for quite some time. Riding the wave of educational robots that can be coded with basic programming, Lego unveiled Lego Boost at CES 2017. Lego Boost cane reportedly utilize the huge piles of multi-colored and multi-sized bricks that are commonly found in every home.
Lego Boost allows kids to build a variety of robots that can respond to stimuli. The Boost Kit is centrally controlled by the Move Hub. The hub is essentially a special Lego brick with an inbuilt tilt sensor as well as a selection of connections for the included motors and visual/color sensor. As expected, the Move Hub can be controlled with a smartphone or tablet running the Boost app. Kids can communicate with the hub and determine how the main brick and the connected devices behave. The Lego Boost comes with three Boost bricks that do most of the robotic heavy lifting, including a tilt sensor, a color and distance sensor and a motor, reported CNet.
[Image by Lego]
Lego Boost comes with instructions to build five different robotics projects, but given the versatility of the main brick as well as the connectors and ancillary bricks that Lego offers, kids can easily build, communicate with, and control quite a few robots. Expected to be launched in the second half of 2017, the $160 Lego Boost set replete with 843 pieces and a special playmat that the robots can move on, will allow kids aged 7 years and older to build and control “Vernie the Robot”, “Frankie the Cat”, the “Guitar 4000”, the “Multi-Tool Rover 4 (M.T.R.4)”, and the “Autobuilder”. Beyond these suggested creations, Lego claims existing Legos can also be used:
“A walking base for making animals like a dragon or a pony, a driving base for building vehicles like a dune buggy or rover, and an entrance base so that children can make their own castle, fort, or even a futuristic space station.”
Lego Boost was undeniably a long-overdue concept. Lego enthusiasts have long expected an inexpensive set of programmable bricks that could work well with existing Lego kits instead of buying special assembly kits and the robotics kit separately. Boost can reportedly turn a lot of pre-purchased Lego kits into motorized or motion-sensitive toys. The accompanying app can record voice effects, which means kids can bestow the power of speech (pre-recorded messages only) for their creations.
[Image by Lego]
Boost creations might appear quite similar to Lego Mindstorms. However, the company has created the system with a younger audience as their focus. In other words, unlike the Mindstorms interface, the app offers a highly simplified interface for kids. However, despite the simplicity, Lego Boost also offers logic functions for use with input from the kit’s sensors and output from the motors and the connected mobile device’s speaker, reported PC Magazine. The Creative Canvas mode will certainly appeal to users beyond the target audience as it offers access to the slightly advanced programming tools outside of the five pre-made projects to build a little more complex robot.
Incidentally, Lego isn’t outmoding its Mindstorms offering. The Move Hub in Lego Boost is essentially a transmitter and receiver device, offloading all programming and processing to the connected tablet and app. Instead of storing and running code, the Move Hub relies on the smartphone app to trigger the motors. The Mindstorms, on the other hand, is a programmable microcomputer and is a more advanced version that can retain and execute code directly, without needing a connected device.