A couple of hours back, I had the chance to play around with the Lego Mindstorms NXT Robot (Alpha Rex) and was blown away by what I saw. I vaguely remember a toy I had as a kid; a robot that had a button on it’s head and made noises when pressed. That was close to 20 years back and boy, how times have changed!
The central part of the kit (also sold separately) is the NXT Intelligent Brick that houses a 32 Bit ARM7 processor, an 8 bit Atmel AVR microcontroller, 4 input ports, 3 output ports and an LCD display. The beauty of the kit is the fact that you can fiddle around with an umpteen number of accessories and build a number of little robotic contraptions. Programming isn’t too difficult either; basic programs can be written directly using the menu on the brick and more complex ones can be downloaded using the USB port. I was told that you could also do it from your mobile phone thanks to Bluetooth connectivity.
The bundled programming software, NXT-G v1.0 allows the user to write a number of simple programs like performing calculations, working servo motors and programming light and sound sensors. The kit comes with 3 identical servo motors and 4 different input sensors; touch, sound, light and ultrasonic. While the majority of us got to play around with Lego blocks as kids, today’s thumb suckers get to fiddle around with exponentially cooler stuff. Pangs of envy are unavoidable.
I’m seriously considering shelling out 379$ to get the Alpha Rex robot. The kid in me has been outed and you can’t coax him back in.