We have mentioned briefly in previous articles that in the second and third wave of LEGO Ultra Agents sets there is something called AppBricks. In the January/February issue of the LEGO Club Magazine you can see what these AppBricks look like; black 1×1 bricks with standard studs on top and one side and a unique looking stud on another side. So what are AppBricks and how do they work? Let’s find it out! 🙂
According to the LEGO Ultra Agents website: “The LEGO AppBrick is a special carbon-infused LEGO brick that conducts electricity from your finger to a tablet device. The AppBricks merge physical and digital play in a new and innovative way exclusive to the Ultra Agent 2015 range. Each of the new Ultra Agents play sets comes with one or more AppBricks that can be used to build the new and cool Ultra Gadgets. As you build the AppBricks into the 2015 Ultra Gadgets and combine them with your tablet, a new and exciting world opens up. Use the AppBricks to unlock unique game features and find secret clues. With the AppBricks you have the upper hand and hold the power to defeat the supervillains and save Astor City.”
So as you can see from the description above, these bricks are made of a conductive material that allows you to interact with the touch-screen of tablet device. Basically like how tablet pens work, but the interesting thing with LEGO AppBricks is that you can integrate them into small LEGO creations and thus allow your creation to be part of the game on your tablet. See the video below for more details on how the AppBricks work:
LEGO has been experimenting with blending real LEGO bricks and virtual games. There was LEGO Life of George, then the recently released LEGO FUSION sets – all allowing you to build with LEGO bricks and integrate them into games via touch-screen devices. The idea is still in its infancy, and some of the ways the integration is implemented and the games are designed are going to work better than others. LEGO Life of George has been discontinued, and while three of the LEGO FUSION sets did get some traction, the fourth one was pulled from the market because it didn’t work very well. (You can see all the LEGO FUSION sets here.) However I’m pretty sure that the technology is here to stay and LEGO will continue improving their products in this regard. It will be through trial and error for LEGO to find the best combination that takes advantage of both real-world building and virtual fun.
The second wave of LEGO Ultra Agents sets will all include some of these new AppBricks. The smallest sets have two, the larger ones more. The summer LEGO Ultra Agents sets will also have AppBricks. So if you want to try them out and see how they work, you can keep an eye out for the new sets that will be released shortly (March for the second wave, summer for the third wave). The game itself can be downloaded at the LEGO Ultra Agents website, and you can already check out the sets under the LEGO Ultra Agents section of the Online LEGO Shop.
What do you think? Do you believe the AppBricks are a good idea? Would you like to see them in more LEGO sets to integrate them with apps and games? Or you have no interest in them? Feel free to share your thoughts and discuss in the comment section below. 😉
And you might also like to check out the following related posts:
Pretty neat. I find these much more likable than FUSION. I don’t see much room for improvement, the App Bricks fit well with the Ultra Agents theme. Maybe this same strategy would work if they came out with another app of this kind for Ninjago. That would be a great idea I think, given the theme’s popularity. 🙄 But if LEGO keeps coming out with brick-to-app devices, they will have to change them up, depending on the context of the sets and app. That would help keep interest up, though if the App Bricks are successful, I can’t see a reason not to use them for other themes.
Also, admin you can change the listing for 70167, it’s no longer listed as “false” but as Drillex Diamond Job. 😉
Yes, I could see these being incorporated into other themes as well. What I particularly like about these AppBricks is that they are small, and can be incorporated into any LEGO creation. So yeah, if LEGO makes apps and games for other products where the AppBricks would be recognized they could greatly increase the cross-platform fun. 🙂
For me, LEGO Fusion was a bit disappointing because getting the lighting and environment right for it to properly detect the bricks was tricky (for me) and the recommended ages may have trouble with that. I’m glad LEGO is continually improving these products.
Yeah, I have heard other people complaining about the lighting and environment issue with FUSION. As you said, the technology to integrate LEGO with virtual games is still new, so it will take continuous experimentation and improvements to get the best combination.
I don’t have any Fusion sets, nor do I plan to get any, but I think that a lighting issue is to be expected with such techniques. Physical contact with the device for the app is a much more reliable method than a camera, as in my experience cameras on mobile devices (such as phones and tablets) are not that good, having no settings to deal with the lighting. However, I do note that App Bricks would not have worked with Fusion, as Fusion’s aim was to make your own creations and put them on the app, and App Bricks would not have let the app recognize custom builds.
Yes, LEGO FUSION and AppBricks employ different interactive platforms. And I think this is what LEGO needs to really pin down; which input works best for LEGO and LEGO’s core audience? Is it the camera? The touch-screen? Something else? Once they narrow that down they can start spreading the technology between themes. This is a challenging area though, as unlike LEGO bricks which have been pretty much unchanged for decades, technology changes constantly, and something that is popular right now may be outdated tomorrow…
About that “false” thing, do you think that there is a glitch in the website? When I last checked, “Gorrilla Grodd goes Bananas” was listed as “Gorrilla Grodd goes Bananasfalse”. It’s very strange.
There have been a lot of problems/glitches in the LEGO Shop site recently. For instance, on Jan. 1, all the sets that came out were “out of stock.” It wasn’t a huge demand for the sets, but a big error. Even after that many new sets I looked at had “false” after their names, like you mention, and Drillex Diamond Job was called “false” up until two days ago. I’m not sure if it’s laziness or ignorance, but the LEGO Shop team is falling behind on their chores.
And at the time of this comment, the site is “experiencing technical difficulties.” Maybe everything will be fixed when that’s done. 😕
Very interesting, but I’m not interested in Ultra Agents so I hope they add this to furure lego products. I think I will stick with Lego Fusion. But very interesting idea still. They should add this to setd with vehicles so that you can race on the tablet or something. But let’s be glad Lego is testing new and interesting ideas! 😀
*future *sets :/
I’ll be happy when I’ve got a 3-D Lego printer.
That would be nice. Maybe Lego will make a 3d printer that you can buy, and you can get different colors of plastic, and select from an online database what brick you want to make. 3d printing takes a long time though
Won’t you scratch the screen with these? Other than that, it sound pretty cool. But sadly it doesn’t sound like my kind of thing though. It’s impressive how much LEGO has progressed.
They won’t scratch the screen. The conductive side is made of a different material than regular LEGO bricks. However it is a good point that if you are attaching them to regular LEGO bricks you don’t want those to scratch the screen.
True. Especially if they where around little kids! 😯