Monday, July 31, 2006

A Mindstorms Rebirth

In 1998 the Lego Corporation™ launched a brand new concept in home robotics. This release was called the Lego Mindstorms Robotic Invention System (RIS). Little did they know that their new release would soon turn into an instant success.

Despite the overwhelming success and popularity generated by the Lego Mindstorms project, for some unknown reason (some say it was finances) the Mindstorms line was left to die. Now, eight years later, the Lego Corporation is once again capitalizing on the robotics line with their newest release: Lego Mindstorms NXT...

The new Lego Mindstorms NXT system sports a brand new computing brick featuring a 32-bit autonomous Lego processor that can be programmed via PC or Mac (which is a first). The programs designed on the computer can then be transferred to the NXT Intelligent Brick through a high speed USB 2.0 cable or by using the brand new Bluetooth wireless feature. This Bluetooth technology makes it possible to control the NXT Brick wirelessly by means of a PDA, cell phone, laptop and more.

Not only has the Intelligent Brick been redesigned but the sensors and motors have been revamped as well. Here is a quick list of what has been changed and added:
• 3 interactive servo motors feature inbuilt rotation sensors to align speed for precise control
• New ultrasonic sensor makes robots "“see" by responding to movement
• New sound sensor enables robots to react to sound commands, including sound pattern and tone recognition
• Improved light sensor detects different colors and light intensity
• Improved touch sensor reacts to touch or release and allows robots to feel
• 519 hand-selected, stylized elements from the LEGO TECHNICĂ‚® building system ensure robot creations will be sturdy and durable while also looking authentic
• Opportunities for physical programming of robots and interaction with robots during programming
• 18 building challenges with clear, step-by-step instructions help acclimate users to the new system to create robots ranging from humanoids and machinery to animals and vehicles
• Digital wire interface allows for third-party developments

The new Lego Mindstorms NXT system comes with an expected price tag of $249.99 and will be available at most toy and discount merchandise retailers.

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