Did you know that Lego Mindstorms is now 15 years old? When it was introduced, we were almost able to claim to be children and the whole of kids' toys looked completely different. Imagine a world where your 10-year-old wasn’t always seen from behind a tablet or smartphone. But despite the changing world of kids, Lego has never stopped being brilliant, fun and captivating.
To celebrate its 15 years, Lego has put together a new collection called EV3 that aims to be smarter, tougher and more hackable than any of the kits that have gone before it. These days, you don’t even need a computer to make Mindstorms do some amazing things. All you need is a smartphone, and some ideas.
There’s an infrared sensor too, which gives more options for programming. In the demo we saw, putting your hand in front of the robot snake made it leap forward and “bite” you. It’s truly stunning how responsive and brilliant that is. We howled with joy at it, and also at the Android and iOS ap flexibility that you get. Giving the phone a shake made the snake do a little slither from side-to-side, something sufferers of ophidiophobia will not enjoy at all .
As well as the snake, we also saw a demo of an insect that would use its infrared sensor to target a remote, fire its weapon towards it and also go to grab at the controller. This is one of 17 designs for which there are instructions included with the kit.
The EV3 itself has USB 2, SD card support and Bluetooth connectivity. It has 16MB of flash memory, 64MB of RAM and the block has four input/output connections, to allow up to four of the blocks to be connected together.
The basis of Mindstorms is now Linux, so kids who mess about with them are going to be learning about creating projects using a powerful, stable OS that will help them enormously if they ever want to pursue a career in computing. But more than that, these kits are just brilliant fun, while being stealthily educational.
EV3 will be available in the second half of this year, and should have a price of around £350 when it launches.