SBrick: Bringing Lego To Life

As toys go, Lego has been pretty exciting with the ability to create almost anything you want, and oodles of technic Lego sets from cars and motorcycles to crawling cranes and Star Wars inspired Sci-Fi sets.   Technic Lego sets are characterized by having special parts and plans for a specific model, such as a racing car, rather than being a collection of studded bricks whose use is left to the imagination of the user.  It is an enormously satisfying toy; part three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle, part constructional toy, and to create one of the larger and more complex models leaves you with a warm glow of pure enjoyment.  But once made, deconstructed, and the parts used to make new vehicles, while it has a lot play value, it might not be as flexible as some other toys.

Then, along came SBrick, and Technic Lego goes from fun to thrilling!!!!!

SBrick is a smart RC controller center which integrates seamlessly with your existing Lego bricks and allows you to take your Technic Lego models from semi-smart to fully smart.  But it doesn’t end there, either; rather than just being a bunch of different bricks and a few technic elements, Lego have been growing their educational advantage by introducing construction and robotics to children via different streams. Alongside Technic, the company have introduced the Education edition to demonstrate basic robotic concepts to younger children, but there has been no overlap between the two systems.  SBrick bridges that, being able to integrate with either Technic editions and allows you to mix them together.  The result is the ability to make and control projects created from both editions, and then your imagination can really take over.

SBrick – it short for smart brick – has been designed to integrate seamlessly into your Lego creations and allow you to take control of them via different interfaces, including a mobile app, a gamepad, a PC, or a tablet.  Furthermore, SBrick can connect to different sensors from the WeDo 1.0 series to allow programming in a variety of languages, making it an ideal way to get your youngsters started on programming with real applications that they can see working!

SBrick is a Kickstarter project with over $100,000 behind it, and the fund still growing.  The system has captured the imagination of Lego users and programmers alike as it lets them take control in many ways, including;

  • Bluetooth control for a distance of up to 50 metres.
  • Compatibility with WeDo 1.0 and EV3/NXT devices with an extra connector.
  • In-built sensors can provide feedback on temperature and voltage, and highlight when your batteries are running down.
  • The ability to tune control chips to increase (or decrease) voltage and directly input on speeds.

The mobile App is able to control multiple SBricks so you can have a number of bricks controlling different parts of your Lego megastructure, or even command several smaller structures or vehicles. You only need slot the SBrick into your chosen structure to get all the functionality.  It’s up to you what you do with them, but whatever it is, you’ll have a great time doing it!!

 

Taken from the December issue of Geek Parenting, out now!

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