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LEGO Boosts its Robotics Options


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The Consumer Electronics Show is taking place in Las Vegas this week and companies are revealing all the coolest tech of 2017. LEGO has announced BOOST, a new robotics platform that can be programed with your iOS or Android tablet and bring your creations to life. BOOST isn't as advanced as Mindstorms and is geared to younger kids building with System versus Technic. One of the most interesting things is that the set doesn't include paper instructions - you use the app to build any of the five models designers have created to show off the set's capabilities. It's an interesting branch in the LEGO robotics world and if you want to learn more you should check out PR Newswire or Mashable. Let us know what you think in the Talkback!

 

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So this was that big reveal teased with the glowing "I"? Meh, I was hoping for something different. I mean, sure, it's kind of cool and creative and whatnot, but it's basically a dumbed-down version of mindstorms. 

 

So yeah, pretty big letdown. But then anything other than Bionicle G3 - which it obviously wasn't going to be - would have been a letdown...

 

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How long will it be before someone releases add ons so the NXT so it can interact with this?

I think this is a great way to get younger kids into programming, but looking at the complexity of the builds, I'm a bit confused by the intended age. They can't be far off from being ready for the full Mindstorms sets. This feels like an adult playing with WeDo.

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Neat! This looks to be essentially the successor to the Mindstorms Robotics Discovery Set and Droid Developer/Dark Side Developer Kits from a decade and a half ago.

http://brickset.com/sets/9735-1/Robotics-Discovery-Set
http://brickset.com/sets/9748-1/Droid-Developer-Kit

http://brickset.com/sets/9754-1/Dark-Side-Developer-Kit

Also, no mention of the app being available on Win10? There are quite a few people with Windows tablets as opposed to Android/iOS, and Lego's already released multiple apps for the universal Windows platform... not to mention the fact that this would allow for easy programming from a laptop, which some kids may occasionally have instead of a tablet. Well, I guess they might have just forgotten to mention it?

Also, it looks like this may be using the WeDo 2.0 connectors... I wonder if they're compatible.

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I had the WeDo question myself. I'm having trouble finding details on what's under the hood, too...it looks like this fills some pretty obvious gaps in what LEGO offers already, though. They haven't had any retail offerings to go with WeDo 2.0 before, and they needed to find a cheaper/faster/simpler way of delivering Mindstorms features. This looks like it does all that and does it with some system and constraction ideas thrown in too.

 

...from what I've read so far, I think the "speakers" might only be the ones on your tablet already. Which might be fine - it's probably cheaper than figuring out a speaker size and/or including output jacks. I wonder what the "3D printer" model actually can do...

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From an AFOL perspective the greatest potential I see in this product is to allow for programmable motorized functions in regular System-based displays. Mindstorms has been less than ideal for that as of late, not just because of how expensive the EV3 runs for but also because the Technic-based nature of the NXT and EV3 systems and the bulkiness of even their smallest motors makes integrating them into a System-based build a challenge (not impossible, but often far more trouble than it's worth). And while regular Power Functions provides a cheaper and more compact option that can be integrated more easily into System builds, it also isn't programmable (at least not without third-party hardware and software like the S-Brick), meaning that making functions that only activate or deactivate periodically requires complex Technic mechanisms.

I still don't think Boost is necessarily the perfect solution to this issue, considering how massive the core brick alone is. But it's a good step in the right direction, at the very least.

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Well, just found out that apparently the new WeDo 2.0 connectors will apparently be replacing the current Power Functions conenctors as well:

https://community.lego.com/t5/TECHNIC/End-of-LEGO-Power-Functions-1-0-Start-of-PF-2-0/td-p/13472482

https://education.lego.com/en-us/support/wedo-2/faqs#core

 

 

Is this a new plug system?

Yes, this is the new LEGO Power Functions plug that has been optimized also to meet potential future needs.

What does that mean for the existing plug systems on other Power Function and MINDSTORMS products? Will they also be changed?
Yes, eventually we will convert to the new plug system after a transition period. The exact timing of this transition has not been determined.

This is neat, but I wish they were using USB-C for everything instead of a proprietary connector. :P

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Well, just found out that apparently the new WeDo 2.0 connectors will apparently be replacing the current Power Functions conenctors as well:

 

https://community.lego.com/t5/TECHNIC/End-of-LEGO-Power-Functions-1-0-Start-of-PF-2-0/td-p/13472482

https://education.lego.com/en-us/support/wedo-2/faqs#core

 

Is this a new plug system?

Yes, this is the new LEGO Power Functions plug that has been optimized also to meet potential future needs.

What does that mean for the existing plug systems on other Power Function and MINDSTORMS products? Will they also be changed?

Yes, eventually we will convert to the new plug system after a transition period. The exact timing of this transition has not been determined.

This is neat, but I wish they were using USB-C for everything instead of a proprietary connector. :P

 

The choice to use proprietary connectors may be to avoid liability for anything going wrong as a result of a kid connecting their LEGO products with non-LEGO products. Sort of like how Bionicle launchers were carefully designed so kids couldn't use them to fire sharp or dangerous objects like nails. While for adults it would be cool to open up those kinds of possibilities, a kids' toy has to put a bigger emphasis on safety.

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Well, just found out that apparently the new WeDo 2.0 connectors will apparently be replacing the current Power Functions conenctors as well:

 

https://community.lego.com/t5/TECHNIC/End-of-LEGO-Power-Functions-1-0-Start-of-PF-2-0/td-p/13472482

https://education.lego.com/en-us/support/wedo-2/faqs#core

 

Is this a new plug system?

Yes, this is the new LEGO Power Functions plug that has been optimized also to meet potential future needs.

What does that mean for the existing plug systems on other Power Function and MINDSTORMS products? Will they also be changed?

Yes, eventually we will convert to the new plug system after a transition period. The exact timing of this transition has not been determined.

This is neat, but I wish they were using USB-C for everything instead of a proprietary connector. :P

 

The choice to use proprietary connectors may be to avoid liability for anything going wrong as a result of a kid connecting their LEGO products with non-LEGO products. Sort of like how Bionicle launchers were carefully designed so kids couldn't use them to fire sharp or dangerous objects like nails. While for adults it would be cool to open up those kinds of possibilities, a kids' toy has to put a bigger emphasis on safety.

 

That's a good point!

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