I was just reading the cover article of this month's Wired Magazine about the new version of Lego Mindstorms called NXT, when this bit of info took me by surprise:
Lund ditched infrared in favor of a USB 2.0 connection. His team also toyed with the idea of adding a camera so robots could be programmed to snap pictures. But they decided against it because it would mean exceeding the $249 price tag target for the NXT kit. Instead, the company added Bluetooth, allowing Mindstorms bots to be linked to - and even controlled by - camera phones.
YEAH! That's awesome! I had totally missed that bit in all the press coverage during CES. A programmable LEGO robot that can talk to my phone? Count me in! You can also use the Bluetooth connection to send your instructions over as well. Wireless robot minions under my command! YES!
The picture above shows the sensors and motors and how they're connected to the 32-bit "intelligent brick." It seems they really focused on extensibility, using phone jacks and USB, etc. (I wonder how long before Linux is running on that bad boy?) What's also interesting is the move from standard Lego bricks to their Technic-style pieces as well. They seem to be going all out for the heavy-duty techie crowd. There's even (of course) a dedicated WordPress blog that they're promoting on the Lego website: NxtBot.com. Very cool (and hosted by Yahoo! Nice!). I've subscribed.
I'm sure there's other robotics kits out there by now if I bothered to look around, but I have to say NXT looks very interesting. It's coming out in August, should be very cool!