updated 04:55 pm EDT, Fri September 15, 2006
LEGO Opens Mindstorms NXT
Previously thought of only as a maker of children's toys, LEGO earned a considerable amount of respect from serious hobbyists when it developed the Mindstorms line of robot construction kits: creative designers could not only build whatever machines the parts allowed, but program them to perform actions LEGO itself never intended through an open software kit. The Danish company today invited yet more openness by announcing that it would license third-party hardware for the Mindstorms NXT robot system, which gives builders even more options for robot designs. The first device under the new licensing scheme comes from HiTechnic, whose NXT Compass Sensor adds the option for hobbyists to guide their robots based on magnetic North. HiTechnic expects the compass to ship in October. An RGB sensor that responds to colors of nearby objects will follow by the end of 2006.