LEGO at CES introduces 7-year-olds to sensors and coding

Jan. 5, 2017

LEGO Group chose the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week to announce LEGO BOOST, which the company describes as “a supercharged building and coding set that lets children bring their LEGO creations to life by adding movement, sound, and personality.”

With its sensors, motors, and software, BOOST seems to have the goal of preparing children ages seven and up to become developers for the Internet of things. The set come with instructions for building Vernie the Robot, Frankie the Cat, the Guitar 4000, the Multi-Tool Rover 4 (M.T.R.4), and the Autobuilder. (LEGO’s MINDSTORMS targets an older demographic, as noted here.)

“We know that children dream of bringing their LEGO creations to life, and our chief ambition for LEGO BOOST is to fulfill that wish,” said Simon Kent, design lead for the LEGO Group. “Once children build a LEGO creation, we give them simple coding tools to ‘boost’ their models by adding personality. We want children to first and foremost have a fun and limitless play experience; adding the coding opportunity is the means to get there.”

The coding comes by way of a downloadable app for an Android or iOS tablet. “Much like building with LEGO bricks, children build behaviors and actions by linking digital coding blocks in an easy-to-understand horizontal layout,” the company explains.

Geoffrey A. Fowler at The Wall Street Journal adds that a wireless chip complements the motors and sensors to help bring LEGO creations to life. Fowler, who had a chance to play with BOOST before CES, says of the coding, “No typing required. Like real-world Lego bricks, these digital blocks of code stack up to make your Lego creation respond to stimuli or perform a routine. In a few minutes, I was able to make Vernie do a little dance, and the cat meow when I gave it a milk bottle made from bricks.”

Nicole Lee at Engadget notes that LEGO BOOST is compatible with existing LEGO bricks. She has a comprehensive review of LEGO BOOST here.

LEGO BOOST will be available in the second half of 2017 at a suggested retail price of $159.99.

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