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Bring your LEGO creations to life with ATOMS!

by admin on December 12, 2012

in Other News & Updates

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.

:arrow: 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.

:arrow: 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.

:arrow: How do ATOMS work with LEGO? ATOMS can work with LEGO in three awesome ways:

  1. The bottoms of all ATOMS are designed to fit the classic LEGO block tightly and securely, just as it would with another LEGO block.
  2. 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.
  3. Each ATOMS motor block has a 4-splined output shaft that fits onto LEGO gears and wheels.

:arrow: 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.

:arrow: 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!

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! :roll:

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! ;)

And you may also like to check out the following related posts:

LEGO Brand Retail

{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

DX ZX KENDO NRG PWR JAY-MOUTH OF LIGHTNING (Seriously i have a mouth of lightning) :) December 12, 2012 at 10:35 AM

THOSE ARNT LEGO! :evil:

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Strider December 12, 2012 at 11:18 AM

And you are not sensible.

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DX ZX KENDO NRG PWR JAY-MOUTH OF LIGHTNING (Seriously i have a mouth of lightning) :) December 12, 2012 at 11:53 AM

WHAT!!

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Strider December 12, 2012 at 2:32 PM

No offense. But if you don’t like them just because there not lego well it just seems a little strange.

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Strider December 12, 2012 at 11:16 AM

Now normally I like my Legos to be entirely Lego and not have anyother brands mixed in. But these are awesome! I am DEFINETLY going to get some. It seems to good to be true. Congratulations Atoms for making my life! (or at least most of it.)

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ninjaben1998 December 18, 2012 at 6:45 PM

I completely agree with everything you said.

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Eric at a LEGO a Day December 12, 2012 at 11:29 AM

I guess I am too much of a purist. These don’t interest me at all. LEGO snob and proud!

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admin December 12, 2012 at 11:38 AM

Eric, what about the LEGO patent I mentioned towards the end of the article? What do you think of that? ;)

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Eric at a LEGO a Day December 13, 2012 at 12:13 PM

I like the idea of that, and would totally be into them. LEGO has unbelievably high quality standards. None of the 3rd party stuff looks “right” to me.

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admin December 13, 2012 at 1:13 PM

Eric, yes, we can expect that whatever LEGO decided to do in this regard is going to be top-notch. I also love custom items though specifically made for LEGO. I’m an artsy-craftsy person myself and I appreciate the craftmanship and hard work that goes into LEGO customs. It is true that some of them are not up to standard, but many of them are in fact incredibly high quality. I have been watching customizers evolve in the past 7 or so years and some of them are definitely up to LEGO’s standards. In some ways even beyond it (like color matching, consistency, and durability). At the same time I also appreciate the standards of purists. There is room for all of us. ;)

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ninjaben1998 December 18, 2012 at 6:48 PM

I believe that Lego will probably buy them out.

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admin December 18, 2012 at 9:41 PM

Perhaps, although unlikely. I have never seen LEGO buy out anybody. They will just make their own if they are interested. As you can see from the patent in the post, they have been thinking about it. ;)

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Wolf May 25, 2013 at 1:27 PM

I’ll wait a bit to get these but, they are awesome (hope LEGO makes something like this! ;) )

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Steven December 12, 2012 at 11:39 AM

I’m like so many others, MOST of us try desperately to keep Legos seperate from outside invaders. This sounds like a nice product agreed, but Lego has a massive following and should remain pure.

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admin December 12, 2012 at 12:10 PM

Gosh, looks like all the purists are out this morning. I better go and hide all my customized minifigs! :oops:

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The Yellow Ninja December 12, 2012 at 11:54 AM

This is an interesting idea! This would seriously help with lego creations and films, but like several people have already proven, people who prefer actual Lego and not other brands will be hard to persuade. But does it work without the ipod/iphone app? I don’t have either, so I don’t if I would buy this or not. If you do not need the app, than I would probably buy it in an instant if I had the money. All in all, this is an ingenious idea that I think should be very popular.

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admin December 12, 2012 at 12:13 PM

Yes, the modules (or at least most of them) don’t need an Apple product for control. Also, I forgot to mention that they are also running a contest at their website to receive the modules, you might luck out. I’m entering the contest myself to see if I can get some. ;)

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The Yellow Ninja December 12, 2012 at 1:02 PM

I might have to enter! Could you post a link to the contest site?

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ShadowPyxii December 12, 2012 at 1:55 PM

I found it on their Facebook page! http://rafl.es/YWYhOg

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The Yellow Ninja December 12, 2012 at 1:57 PM

Thanks! :D

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admin December 12, 2012 at 6:05 PM

Good job! And it is also listed on their website. :)

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Dr. Inferno December 12, 2012 at 12:20 PM

I understand customizing minifigures and using Brickarms, Brickforge, etc. accessories, so i’m not a purist in that sense, but i don’t see how these things are compatible with lego….i guess they’d work well for technic sets, but I’m not a technic fan at all, so i guess these just aren’t for me.

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Håkan December 12, 2012 at 1:49 PM

If you look at the fourth image from the top, you can see that the “blocks” have a gray base on the bottom which allows them to be attached to Lego studs.

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Håkan December 12, 2012 at 1:54 PM

Also, quoting directly from the article: *^,^*

How do ATOMS work with LEGO? ATOMS can work with LEGO in three awesome ways:

1. The bottoms of all ATOMS are designed to fit the classic LEGO block tightly and securely, just as it would with another LEGO block.
2. 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.
3. Each ATOMS motor block has a 4-splined output shaft that fits onto LEGO gears and wheels.

I’m not such a purist, and judging from the look of it, it seems cool.

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NinjaNut December 12, 2012 at 12:24 PM

Awsome i want to make my lego house blow up!!!!!!!!!

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Melbuscus December 12, 2012 at 12:31 PM

Nah not the cooles t thing ever …

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gid617 December 12, 2012 at 12:33 PM

Certainly an interesting idea, I’m not exactly a purist (I wouldn’t by from Brickarms, Brickforge, Alt Bricks, etc, but if for whatever reason I had some I’d be fine with using them where ever possible), but though I’d like to add lights (especially) to my builds, it seems like a lot of work for something that will just be destroyed in a few days (which is the case with most of my creations!). It’s even more interesting that LEGO patented an electrically conducting brick. I wonder if/when/how they’d use it?

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admin December 12, 2012 at 6:10 PM

Yes, I’m also really curious about that LEGO patent. It seems that basically you will be able to connect bricks and they will automatically conduct electricity without extra wires. That would be so awesome! Imagine the possibilities! Like castles all lit up inside. Or like your botanical garden with street-lights, vehicles with working lights – all without having to worry about wiring! :D

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gid617 December 13, 2012 at 5:40 AM

Looks to me like the brick has 16 studs… though the studs do look a bit out of proportion… :?

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Legoman640 December 12, 2012 at 12:35 PM

AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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studless December 12, 2012 at 12:55 PM

pretty cool. reminds me of an idea for something similar i had a while ago.

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Ninja-of-Earth December 12, 2012 at 1:46 PM

Probably only has a market for younger Lego fans.

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Håkan December 12, 2012 at 2:00 PM

That should last a while, though… ;)

I guess as an outside company, you’re not allowed legally to explicitly mention Lego in your advertisement, as it is a registered trademark. You have to get around it using drawings or photographs as illustrations, and have statements phrased as “compatible with leading brands of building blocks” or something…

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tgb.legoguy December 12, 2012 at 2:28 PM

how much do you think they will cost? I really want a kit!

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admin December 12, 2012 at 6:05 PM

Not sure yet. The project is still in the fundraising stage, so there is still some way to go. They did say they want the kids to be as economical as possible to make it affordable for kids and adults. So I assume the price should be reasonable. ;)

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Jay-MOL December 12, 2012 at 3:50 PM

Admin you should do a post a “minecraft style” :p

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admin December 12, 2012 at 6:03 PM

Uhm… what do you mean by Minecraft style? :?

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DX ZX KENDO NRG PWR JAY-MOUTH OF LIGHTNING (Seriously i have a mouth of lightning) :) December 12, 2012 at 6:18 PM

you know that supid song gangman style? well there a minecraft style based off the song and minecraft :P

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admin December 13, 2012 at 9:40 AM

He-he… I was hoping that’s not what you are referring to. :roll:

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NRG Pythor December 12, 2012 at 8:26 PM

It’s not stupid!

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NinjaNut December 12, 2012 at 11:20 PM

Nìcè śét

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NinjaNut December 13, 2012 at 8:55 AM

NEED EXPLODEING BRICK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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bently December 13, 2012 at 10:07 AM

those would be so cool! who cares if there lego or not?

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Strider December 13, 2012 at 10:28 AM

Yes. Finally someone who agrees with me.

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ShadowPyxii December 13, 2012 at 11:59 AM

Totally. They hit their fundraising goal yesterday so now it’s certain they’ll be made! I pre-ordered a set. So excited to make my LEGO creations explode :)

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admin December 13, 2012 at 1:14 PM

Shadow, yeah I liked that exploding feature too! :roll:

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Tobymacboy December 16, 2012 at 8:27 AM

Well , like the others , I agree that it is NOT LEGO and using anything not LEGO is just like using Mega Bloks , in my opinion. These guys have good ideas , but they are basically competition to LEGO. Why buy the fake brands if you can use the REAL DEAL? Maybe it costs more , but LEGO always has the right price , so I am certain that the Power Functions and Mindstorm work much better. I don’t use any knock offs of any kind. No MB , super blox , light brix , none of it.

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tgb.legoguy January 5, 2013 at 7:22 AM

Are they available yet?

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admin January 5, 2013 at 9:54 AM

They did raise the necessary funds to go to the next step, so things are on schedule as far as I know. You can keep up to date on their website of the different stages before production.

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ninjanut March 12, 2013 at 8:30 PM

Do you know the name of the app I typed in atoms and there was 391 results so if you know plz tell!?!?

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