Jan 31, 2006

Software speculation...

I've been looking closer at the LabView software images. I've made some comments within this image. If you have any thoughts, let me know. There's a LOT of things in this image. I'm just speculating here, so please take my comments as strictly guesses.

WIRED Magazine introduces the User Panel

The February 2006 issue of WIRED magazine mentioned in its NXT coverage four individuals who were brought on board as the first members of the User Panel. Three of these individuals have dedicated websites (see below):

John Barnes: -With the converter cables mentioned in an earlier post, most (or all) of the custom sensors on this website should be compatible with the NXT. Check out the Ultrasonic Range Sensor - look familiar?

Steve Hassenplug -Steve invented the Legway. If you haven't seen it, click here. The NXT version is probably around the corner.

Ralph Hempel -I couldn't find anything here regarding NXT, but it won't stop me from checking back now and then.

HowStuffWorks NXT video

Yet another NXT Video... this one mainly shows the REX moving. A demonstration is given showing how it reacts to sound and 'dances' faster as the volume increases. The speaker also stated the 'vision' sensor is based on proximity, so I'm not sure how color sensitivity is handled (if at all) by this sensor.

Jan 30, 2006

New Video - watch scorpion tail hit the camera!

New video to share... this one shows the scorpion. I'm still amazed at how fast that tail can strike. Watch the camera operator get a little too close - BAM!

I've been asked - How in the world are you finding all these videos? All I can say is this: with degrees in English and Engineering, I've become quite good at hunting down elusive information.

PC Magazine Video

pcmag.com has a video that (towards the end) has coverage of NXT. Unfortunately, it is at the end of a 61 minute long video and the fast forward button is almost useless. I just let the video run and checked back towards the end... it starts at the 53-minute mark and ends close to the 56-minute mark. During the 3 minutes of coverage, they show the Rex robot with some really good closeups AND you can hear the sound of it walking. Then they cover the slot machine and (on the 2nd attempt) the speaker gets all 3 blues and you see the door open up that gives candy. Very cool... video and sound are great.

Mindstorms NXT Education version

Some interesting news on the educational version of NXT... (a rechargeable battery!!) it has extra sensors and will come with converter cables that allow the older RIS sensors and motors to be used (that's what the page says, at least). I hope these converter cables will become available to us regular folks...

Some additional FAQs on the new educational version here.

CBS video for Mindstorms NXT

CBS has a video that covers NXT (plus a few other toys) here. I couldn't get it to play the video, but I was able to hear the audio portion. If you are able to get it to work, please let me know (and let me know how you did it!).

Jan 28, 2006

Demo at CES of Bluetooth

News on NXT is still sparse, but I found this article on cnet.com - it mentions Soren Lund directing one of the LMNXT robots with his Bluetooth phone and it performing interesting 'feedback' to his phone.

Jan 27, 2006

NXT Software Press Release

Press release on the software for NXT, developed by National Instruments Corp. (NI). I really liked the comment that one of the goals of the software development was to "broaden the base of MINDSTORMS users among younger children..."

Jan 26, 2006

LEGO Mindstorms NXT product page

Well, the part count is no longer being reported as 500+ - here it is: 577. Not quite what the earlier RIS systems came with. I'll have to remember to check back here every now and then for any updates.

Mindstorms NXT User Panel info

Good article from cnet.com with some comments from Mr. Soren Lund. The article also mentions the date that LEGO will make the announcement for the Mindstorms User Panel (MUP) winners.

Jan 25, 2006

Bluetooth Summaries

With the NXT Intelligent Brick supporting Bluetooth, some may be wondering what exactly it is... here are two summaries that don't get too deep into the details:

How Stuff Works Article (I LOVE www.howstuffworks.com)

Palm Article

NXT will be included in the FIRST LEGO LEAGUE

I guess I'm lucky to live in Atlanta, Georgia, where the national championships for the FIRST LEGO LEAGUE are held. This year, the event will be held on April 27-29. If you've got a child between the ages of 9 and 14, check out the official website together to find out if there's a school or locally sponsored team.

From the official FLL website: "...with the help of LEGO® MINDSTORMS™ Robotics Invention System™ technology, young participants can build a robot and compete in a friendly, FIRST-style robotics event specially designed for their age group. Using LEGO bricks and other elements such as sensors, motors, and gears, teams gain hands-on experience in engineering and computer programming principles as they construct and program their unique robot inventions."

Makes me (almost) wish I were young enough to participate. Maybe I'll look at volunteering.

There's also a Junior FLL organization for ages 6 to 9.

The official word on the site is that the challenges will still support the older Mindstorms products as well as the new NXT system. The official word:

"The FLL Challenge will be designed to support both the existing and new LEGO MINDSTORMS technology and we anticipate no game-related advantage or disadvantage to using either. FLL is in the process of evaluating a migration plan to introduce the new technology into FLL Challenges in future years."

Interview/Demo video from CES

There's a nice video on engadget.com that has an interview with a LEGO spokesperson from the CES 2006. It has a nice little demonstration of the slot machine that we've all seen pictures of... now you can see it actually work.

Video here

Jan 24, 2006

ROBOT magazine coverage of NXT

The new magazine, ROBOT, has a great little article on the Mindstorms NXT system. But even better news is that they've posted a video (.wmv format) that shows 4 fully-functional robots.

Video here

(At the 57-second mark of the video, you'll get a great view of one of the servo motors in action. Also notice how fast the 'scorpion' robot tail strikes!)

Great WIRED magazine article on LEGO and NXT

WIRED magazine, Feb 2006 issue, has a great article on LEGO and some history behind the Mindstorms systems, including the NXT. You can read the article here.

I'm also providing a link to three articles on the new LEGO sponsored blog, nxtblog.com. These writeups covered the 2006 CES demonstrations of the NXT sytem.

LEGO released images

The following image was released of the Intelligent Brick, the sensors, and the servo motors. (If I've made a mistake, please let me know. The light and touch sensors look very similar, but from the intro video on the official NXT homepage, I think I've correctly labeled the components.)

The NXT details currently available

There's not much technical information on the Mindstorms NXT system yet. Some basic pictures and videos are available from its unveiling at the 2006 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The price is being reported as US$249.99.

One big change from the earlier Mindstorms Robotics Invention System (RIS 1.0/1.5/2.0) is the use of LEGO Technics parts versus the LEGO bricks parts. New sensor-types, a change to servo motors, and the redesigned controller, the NXT Intelligent Brick, all seem to point to a move by LEGO to take the Mindstorms system to a completely new level.

Examining some online posts on the official LEGO community forums seems to indicate mixed feelings about this change, with the major concern being compatibility between the older RIS systems and the new NXT system.

The latest LEGO Mindstorms NXT news...

The LEGO Group has announced a release date of August 2006 for the new Mindstorms NXT. LEGO has also announced the formation of a 100-member Mindstorms User Panel (MUP). Applications for the MUP will be accepted up until February 5, 2006.
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