Feb 20, 2006

New LEGO Education website to watch...

Reader Mitch E. put me onto this one - it looks like Lego Education has another website devoted to NXT. There's not much on it (yet), but it indicates things will start moving in April 2006.

Check it out here.

And read the Lego Education NXT blog here.

Thanks, Mitch, for the information!

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

sorry.. I decided to bring over the conversion from the previous one to here....

but there are many building block toys now in the market... at least my place here... so there is tamiya building robots ..very cheap and easy to assemble and thrown in a microcontroller.. it will be easy to start programming them. I am sure tamiya can improve on that... I also saw other building block toys selling...

Are you telling me what separates Lego and other competitors is the third party developers and its hosted competition.. surely not rite? Lego comes from a rock-solid established company, and has stared at its competitors and won.


Could it be becos lego promised to reduce time for creating robots that entice people to buy it? Is it its easy user interface? If it is, are 3rd party developers using the same interface ? If they arent, it defeat the purpose of third party developer adding more functionality. Why should third party developer spend time on it?

By the way, what is the diffence betweeen the old system and the new nxt system... besides the new makeover and bluetooth wireless capability? Is there a great improvement that would have buyer tossing the older version aside and buying the latest one?

Lastly, tell me what is of mindstorm that interest you so greatly to devote you to blogging about it? Where did the passion come from? I like to know. Perhaps you can also give me reasons why my child later will come running to me asking for the new mindstorm and why I should buy it for him.

Jim Kelly said...

I think you hit on a major reason that I didn't list because it seems so common sense - Name Recognition.

LEGO is something that most kids have played with... and most adults. I had blocks growing up and the urge to build something cannot be ignored. I imagine if you drop a bucket of bricks in front of any adult, they cannot resist the urge to click them together.

Yes, there are plenty of robot kits on the market that are relatively inexpensive. But how many of them offer as large a number of expanion kits, extra parts, motors, sensors, and COLORS at the prices that LEGo sells them?

I can't speak for the new user interface because all I've got is a handful of screenshots. What I can go on is the success of LabView and the number of programmers who have piped in and stated that it's a good move for LEGO - that is, away from the RCX programming interface that came with the original kit.

Besides the makeover and bluetooth, what does NXT offer over RCX? Your question is good because I'm sure it'll start some good conversation here, but I'll offer a few ideas:

1. More rugged creations. The Technics components should/will provide a more solid base for a robot/design with less chance of it falling apart. I would estimate that 30-40% of my time playing with RCX designs was simply trying to figure out how to keep it from falling apart after 5 minutes of use.

2. Quicker design-to-play: LEGO has stated that they wanted our younger designers to be up and running in less than 30 minutes. That was IMPOSSIBLE with RCX.

3. Compatibility with RCX. LEGO isn't dumb - they know that fans of RCX are going to be looking for ways to combine the two systems. Besides HiTechnic offering the multiplexor and bridge, LEGO has stated that cables will be made available (for sale) to allow for use of the old sensors and motors. That's not only an improvement, it's a challenge for those of us who are now thinking of ways to make the 2 work together in more complex ways.

Why am I so excited about NXT and blogging about it? Well, I write for a living, so writing for me is 2nd-nature. If no one else read my blog, it gives me an outlet for my robotic interests. My interest in NXT is simply because I enjoyed my RIS 1.5 system so much. I studied robotics while getting my engineering degree - but I can't afford the systems I had access to while in school... NXT is reasonable in cost and reasonable in its features. I can't drop $1000 on a robot that does cartwheels and flips. It's cool to watch, but I'd rather drop $250 and decide for myself what I want my bot to do.

Thanks for your comments... I hope others will chime in with their thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Good points you have. Lego is very fortunate to have you blogging for them.

Is there anything else beside the price that motivates you or a parent to buy NXT systems? Lego I think is moving away from brick building... I think they want to shorten the time for building .. wont that take the fun away? Do you think they are moving in the right direction, moving away the novalty of lego construction? So what are they moving towards? Lego is no more emphasizing on contructing robots from scratch, gosh? Are there better goodies in the package besides lego building?

I see you are very knowledgable in other robotic platform. Out of curiosity, what would you like to see in a lego platform as an engineer besides cost reduction?

Jim Kelly said...

Lego bricks will never disappear... that is their lifeblood. And the fact that you can mix Technic and Stud components shouldn't take away from robot building. I do believe the move to Technic parts for Mindstorms is the right move... it's a maturing of the product. And as I stated earlier, I think the components will enhance AND strengthen designs.

And I could be wrong... NXT might not be as popular as RIS. But the robots designed with NXT have that 'look' that kids AND adults seem to associate with automata.

As to your other question: Besides cost reduction? Add-ons, add-ons, and add-ons. I hope that in 1 to 2 years the sheer number of extras you can buy to enhance your designs will fill a catalog. I'd like to go online or to the store and buy, off-the-shelf, a servo motor with a different shape, a few extra sensors, maybe some large tires and treads. Obviously it would be nice to have some expansion kits (like the Vision System for the RIS), and I believe LEGO already is planning some.

Anonymous said...

Opps.. I am lost ... What is 'Technic' and 'Stud' components ? I didnt quite understand what you said about ' I do believe the move to Technic parts for Mindstorms is the right move' ? What is that? Hardware?

Jim Kelly said...

When I say stud, I mean to old lego bricks... by Technic, I mean the Technic variety of components. I may not be the best person to explain the difference - it's one of those "you'll know it when you see it" types of things.

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