July 25, 2006 4:00 AM PDT
Lego robots march on Microsoft
(continued from previous page)
And that's how, suddenly, three robots on a table all began moving simultaneously--though it seemed they could only go backward, and they began to get dangerously close to the edge of the table.
"I think someone needs to file a bug report on this," yelled an audience member.
But George Chrysanthakopoulos, a software architect at the Microsoft Robotics Studio, wasn't fazed. He kept on running his demonstration, including an explanation of the studio's Robotics Simulation Visualizer software, which lets users mock up Lego robots in a purely digital environment based on real physics. Chrysanthakopoulos directed one of the virtual robots to back into a large white block. The block toppled into another like dominoes.
The point, said Chrysanthakopoulos, is that Microsoft has created robotics software that can be integrated with the Mindstorms NXT system, despite the fact that Lego Mindstorms NXT will ship on its Aug. 1 launch date with software from National Instruments.
And that's exactly how it's meant to be, said Michael McNally, director of brand relations for Lego Mindstorms.
"We invited a small group of people to help us develop," McNally said at the tour's kick-off event at Wired Magazine in San Francisco last week. "Then more to troubleshoot and roll it out to the community...Now that it's a finished deal, we're asking creatives at leading companies to show what they can do."
As the hundreds on hand for the Microsoft stop on the Mindstorms NXT tour watched the various robots being demonstrated, McNally explained Lego's corporate philosophy about the new product.
He said it was only a very short time after the original Mindstorms system went on the market in 1998 that hackers began to work their magic on the rudimentary robots. And while it took some time for Lego to get behind the notion of giving away control, McNally said the company now recognizes that's the only way to go.
"We're not a technology company," he said. "We are 100 percent a toy company. So imagine the internal debates about what do we do with people who are hacking our product...So we decided to let the hackers continue with their activities and show us what the true potential is."
2 commentsJoin the conversation! Add your comment