BILLUND — The LEGO Group has announced today that they will be working closely with Microsoft to develop new extensions for the new LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 robotics platform. The move doesn’t come as a complete surprise — Previous generations of LEGO MINDSTORMS worked with Microsoft Robotics studio — but the new partnership should result in even more innovative products.
“LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 is an awesome product”, says Microsoft innovation lead Antony Foster. “We are excited to be part of this. Today you can control your robot with your phone, but with our software, your robots can do your daily chores at the command of a single thought”, he says.
The details remain unclear, but early sketches suggest that Microsoft is working on a port of Internet Explorer 10, specially made for the EV3 brick. This is possible when EV3 owners extend their programmable brick with an external WiFi dongle through the USB port. This way, robot builders can share their designs while still working on the robot.
Other new products include an all new robotic awareness sensor. Face, voice and scent recognition help builders identify with their robotic creation. Microsoft recently stepped into the world of hardware for their portable devices, and this seems to be another step in that direction.
“LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 is all about sharing new ideas”, says LEGO Community manager Stephanie Calvin. This idea seems to align with the fact that the new robotics system will be completely open source. “In the past we provided adult fans of LEGO with early production prototypes of new robotics products. This strategy was so successful that we’re doing the same today, only now with Microsoft developers.”
Even though the partnership takes LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 to a whole new level, the system is still easy and fun to use for kids. “LEGO is still about building, brick by brick”, Calvin continues. “The Microsoft extensions for EV3 will only make it easier for kids to see their robot come alive. Now they can really Create and Command, all the while watching their favorite movies on the EV3 screen”.
LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 will retail for $349.99 this summer. Microsoft didn’t mention pricing details, but early screenshots seem to indicate that on-screen ads are part of the business model. Microsoft for EV3 Robotics will launch soon after LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 becomes available.
Update: Confused about IE 10 running on the EV3 brick? And a scent sensor? Check out the date of this post.