I have been contacted by the inventors of an interesting idea; smart building blocks compatible with LEGO that bring your LEGO creations alive. They asked me to share their idea with our community of LEGO fans. They would love to hear your feedback and thoughts on their products and see what you think.
Here is what the creators say about their products: ATOMS are “smart” building blocks and works seamlessly with LEGO and other toys to help kids of all ages “make things that do things.” It’s seriously cool tech in a small, inexpensive package: Accelerometers, light sensors, motors and more (13 smart-blocks so far!) Imagine having a “magic wand” that can turn the lights on and off; make a LEGO house explode or create motorized LEGO toy cars and tanks that you can drive around with an iPhone controller. The possibilities are truly endless!
ATOMS were built to work with the stuff kids already have, like LEGO, costumes, stuffed animals, Barbie and action figures. ATOMS don’t require any electronics skills or programming experience – or supervision from a parent with an engineering degree. In fact, because of the tiny electronics built into each one, kids can make all sorts of cool stuff within 5 minutes of taking ATOMS out of the box.
Our company is creating the tools to help a new generation of LEGO & tech lovers build things as fast as they can imagine them – straight out of the box. The founder and dad, Michael Rosenblatt, has done cool things for Apple (iPod and iPhone), and is now bringing ATOMS to life out of the start-up community in Boulder, Colorado. ATOMS fills a current market void, and is working to empower creative builders and inventors without the need of serious technical or coding skill. Not only will ATOMS save time, but they’ll also save a good amount of cash on otherwise expensive engineering & robotics kits.
Thirteen unique building blocks are included in our first ATOMS sets. They are: motor, light sensor, sound module, knob module, battery brick, splitter, IR “laser,” IR target, LED, Flip Flop, accelerometer, exploding brick, and iPhone control brick (yep, we’re using Bluetooth 4.0). With these first 13, kids can make monsters that move, wands that turn on lights, castles that blow up, and stuff we haven’t even thought of yet.
We’ve had a lot of questions about the connection between LEGO and ATOMS, both from a product functionality perspective and a company relationship perspective. Because of this, our team has taken the liberty of putting together some answers to a few questions you might have! Should you have any other curiosities about LEGO products and ATOMS smart blocks working together, please let us know. We’ll be happy to answer them.
Aren’t you infringing on LEGO patents? Nope! The relevant patents actually expired years ago, which is why you see so many replications of their iconic shape.
Are you working with or in talks with LEGO? Not officially, but our founder Michael Rosenblatt was a LEGO fellow at MIT and has a number of contacts at their company (and he literally has 3 tons of his own LEGO). It goes without saying that they’re an amazing company and product. We’re certainly open to collaboration.
How do ATOMS work with LEGO? ATOMS can work with LEGO in three awesome ways:
- The bottoms of all ATOMS are designed to fit the classic LEGO block tightly and securely, just as it would with another LEGO block.
- The ATOMS motor block has holes that fit LEGO Technic connector pegs, which makes gives a builder additional ways to incorporate ATOMS motors into structures vehicles. Other ATOMS may have holes for Technic connector pegs in the future too.
- Each ATOMS motor block has a 4-splined output shaft that fits onto LEGO gears and wheels.
What are the differences between Mindstorms and ATOMS? Mindstorms NXT is a powerful programming kit developed by LEGO that allows you to build LEGO creations and program them from your computer. This involves assembling the components, installing the software on your computer, writing the program in Mindstorms’ coding language, and transferring the program to your Mindstorms hardware for use. Mindstorms really excels for creating complex programs with conditional behaviors, but requires a significant investment in both dollars and time.
ATOMS blocks contain similar functionality such as light sensors and motors, but there’s no programming required! ATOMS is more focused on the “plug and play” operation, allowing for instant feedback and modification by swapping wire connections between modules to change behaviors. ATOMS really excel at quickly creating simple behaviors, like controlling a motor’s speed with a light sensor, or triggering the exploding ATOM brick with an infrared transmitter.
Which LEGO products do ATOMS work with? We’re called Seamless Toy Co for a reason! ATOMS seamlessly integrate with classic LEGO blocks and sets, LEGO Technic collections and LEGO Mindstorms & Mindstorms NXT kits.
If you would like to learn more about ATOMS below are some helpful links. And if you feel inspired to participate and support the company you can check out their Kickstarter campaign. They are very close to reaching their goal and your help is greatly appreciated! At the same place you can also find a lot of info about what the team behind ATOMS achieved so far, what are the next steps and the challenges they have overcome. It is quite interesting!
- ATOMS Express Toys Kickstarter Campaign Page
- ATOMS Express Toys Website
- ATOMS Flickr Gallery
- ATOMS YouTube Channel
How do I feel about ATOMS? I say; bring it on! Anything that makes my LEGO move around, light up, make sounds or explode makes me jump in glee! (Okay, okay, I know you think I sound like a 5-year-old, but admit it; animated LEGO is fun!) In fact I’m very surprised that LEGO haven’t been adding more functionality like this to their sets! There are a few light and sound bricks, but they are barely ever featured. The ones I do have I mess around with all the time – adding them to my various LEGO creations.
On the other hand I find it interesting that LEGO filed a trademark back in 2009 titled “Electrically Conducting Building Element”. (See here: US Patent #20110300772 – Electrically Conducting Building Element by LEGO) If you look at the drawings and read the description it appears that LEGO devised a means to provide electrical connections through LEGO bricks without using wires. They patented both the conducting bricks and the manufacturing method itself. Pretty exciting to say the least! If these electrically conducting LEGO bricks become a reality the possibilities are endless! Just think about it!
Anyhow, it seems like making smart LEGO bricks is in the air and it may happen from more direction than one. Which means choices – always a good thing in my book. What do you think? How do you like the ATOMS smart bricks? Do you think it’s a good idea? What would you build with them? Share your thoughts in the comment section below! The ATOMS team greatly appreciates your feedback and would love to hear from you!
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