LEGO® announces new RFID Sensor

Today, LEGO® has announced a partnership with Codatex Hainzlmaier GmbH & Co. KG, of Salzburg, Austria, to develop and market an RFID sensor that will seamlessly integrate into the NXT:

"BILLUND, Denmark, January 10, 2008
The LEGO Group today announced partnership with Codatex Hainzlmaier GmbH & Co. KG, of Salzburg, Austria to allow the manufacture and sale of hardware accessories certified by the LEGO Group for the LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT robotics toolset. This partnership represents the continued evolution of the company's commitment to community-driven innovation and open-source development surrounding its next generation robotics system.
The contract between the LEGO Group and Codatex was signed October 21, 2007 at LEGOWorld, an annual gathering of LEGO fans and community members in Europe, where a prototype sensor was demonstrated to attendees.
The third-party licensing agreement gives Codatex Hainzlmaier GmbH & Co. KG access to official LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT sensor housings to develop and market accessory sensors compatible with NXT that are complimentary to the look, style and function of the NXT toolset. Codatex sensors will integrate seamlessly within the NXT software programming environment and are tested to the same high quality and tolerance standards as the LEGO Group’s own manufactured products.
RFID, which is short for Radio Frequency Identification, is a leading edge technology used in many industrial and commercial applications, like all kinds of access control, animal identification, supply chain management and many more. The first version of the new RFID Sensor will read 125 kHz transponders. The number stored in the transponders is of 5 byte length allowing a variety of more than 1 trillion combinations.
Within the LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT world the RFID sensor will allow users, for example, to protect their programs, so you can only start it with an individual key transponder. There is also an unlimited flexibility to program different actions upon identification of different transponders.
"We are thrilled to include Codatex as new licensee and look forward to add the RFID sensor to the LEGO MINDSTORMS portfolio of 3rd Party accessories," said Steven Canvin, Marketing Manager for LEGO MINDSTORMS. "We expect to see many new play scenarios evolve around the RFID sensor, which we believe will expand children and adult enthusiasts' ability to build and program robots that do what they want."
"We are very proud to launch the RFID sensor for the MINDSTORMS NXT platform," said Hermann Hainzlmaier of Codatex. "As an accessory to the NXT, we believe that the RFID sensor will open up for many new play experiences for both young and old users, and this is only the beginning, because we have many more ideas for products and accessories to come!"

About Codatex Hainzlmaier
Codatex Hainzlmaier GmbH & Co.KG has experience in RFID since its very beginning in the mid- 80s. With its small team of experts, Codatex has specialized on developing and marketing RFID OEM products for access control and time and attendance equipment.

NOTE: LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT information and product images can be downloaded from
See and for more information on coming products and details."

UPDATE: Here's some pictures - I'll post a review a little later today. - Jim

FYI: With the Sensor you get two of the transponders seen in the bag in upper left corner of picture. The rest are extra options that I believe will be sold separately - "watch" transponders for wearing on wrist and bags of 10 clear transponders.


Anonymous said…

Tell me if I am wrong. Using this sensor, the robot could track you? Basically what I mean is, that in a large room, and you are wearing one of the "trackers" the bot will drive straight at you? And you could program the bot to navigate a house looking for you?!?

If so. Wow.

Anonymous said…

Sorry, posted a comment BEFORE reading the entire post. Okay, it's not as cool as I thought, but it is pretty interesting. So it's basically a electronic lock, and the trasponders are the keys, right?

*Hangs head in shame*

More technical information will probably be released by LEGO and/or Codatex very soon, but I can tell you that the Sensor works by reading a 5 byte string of data from the transponder. The distance you are asking about between the transponder and the sensor is a bit too much - the actual distance between the sensor and transponder must be very close for a proper reading.

One example of a robot that uses this setup would be a robot that rolls along your bookshelf and scans each book's spine. If a transponder was glued inside each book, you could program your robot to search for a specific book (linked to a transponder using possibly a VARIABLE block and a COMPARE block: If Value Read by Sensor = XXXXXXX (TRUE) then SWITCH block assigns VARIABLE block to "Dictionary"). This is very simplistic, but the idea is that the sensor can read a 40-bit (5 byte) string of data that can be considered to be fairly unique (in terms of its value) and this transponder can then be used as a source of identification.

Likewise, it could also be used for navigational purposes - transponders mounted at various points on the floor or walls could help a robot "navigate" by making the proper left, right, rotate decisions.

Anonymous said…
Interested in hearing more.
rb95403 said…
I can see many applications for RFID, including navigation -- perhaps 3-D navigation similar to GPS as the NXT notes its position between three RFID devices?

Looking forward to the review and availability.
Anonymous said…
Think of a RFID tag as a barcode.

The major difference is you can sense the RFID tag from a distance and the RFID tag can hold more data. It is basically a chip with an antenna. Distances do vary depending on the type of RFID chip.

Pretty soon all products in the stores will have an RFID tag and not a barcode. This will help companies easily scan inventory.

When you take your cart through the check out lane you can scan the entire contents of your cart in one scan rather then individual scans like you currently do with barcodes.
Anonymous said…
Ah... Gotcha.

That is still pretty cool and impressive. I thought it more of those old sci-fi movies where the door opens when they put their watchlike device to the dock. Wow, the use of that sensor seems pretty well spread out.

rb95403 said… reports that
will be providing the hardware. The site includes video and FAQ's.
Anonymous said…
To see a cool lego robot that uses a rfid reader you should check out

Anders's Mindstorms site

Micah E. said…
I don't quite understand the purpose of this sensor... it seems that it would have the exact same range as Bluetooth (being RF) and it would not have the same capabilities? Is it possible to send data like variables through this sensor? Can the NXT detect the distance between itself and the transmitter?
Dean Hystad said…
The sensor can read a number from an RFID tag if the tag is within range and correctly oriented. The sensor gives you a number, not a distance and not a direction. Think of it as a radio frequency barcode reader

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