Skip to main content

Random Thoughts

Many of you know that Wired magazine's Editor-in-Chief, Chris Anderson, is a huge MINDSTORMS fan. He's the guy who put an NXT inside a remote control airplane and used a HiTechnic sensor to boot. He's also the author of "The Long Tail" which I blogged about in an earlier post.

Chris has a new book coming out in July titled "Free: The Future of a Radical Price" that builds on an excellent article he wrote for Wired a while back. While I'm looking forward to the book, I went back and re-read the article. I'd like to open up a wild discussion here and welcome your thoughts... so here it is:

One of the article's (and book's) basic ideas is that businesses might find growth opportunity by giving away certain products and selling others. Imagine if LEGO gave away a single NXT Brick to every science teacher who requested one - they couldn't do much with it without the software, motors, sensors, and other stuff, right? But imagine if they threw in two motors, two rubber wheels/hubs, a caster, two wires, and the software? Crazy to consider, but still, all you can do with it at this point is build a tribot of some sort with no sensors and very little functionality.

Could LEGO recover the costs of all those free NXTs (and parts) through the profits received by selling sensors, add-ons, etc? Would having the basic components of a programmable tribot open the eyes of those teachers unfamiliar with the NXT and encourage them to request the purchase of additional parts, lesson plans, and activities for the classroom? (Keep in mind that it can be argued that Apple had some success years ago by giving away an Apple computer to every school in the USA - the philosophy, I think, is to get them hooked on the Apple computer and they'll purchase an Apple later in life.)

Do I think this is realistic? Of course not... but anything's possible. MINDSTORMS has a well established community and teachers (at least here in the USA) seem to at least be familiar with it through events such as FLL, RoboCup Jr, and LEGO Education sales reps. LEGO is in business to make a profit through sales of their products, but it does make me wonder if giving away some of their key products such as the NXT brick might stimulate sales in other areas. (Imagine if every Technic kit they sold came with optional instructions for integrating an NXT brick into the design - not hard to do, in my opinion.)

Popular posts from this blog


2023 is the 25th Anniversary of the MINDSTORMS brand. For 25 years, MINDSTORMS has educated and inspired a generation of robot builders, both children and adults. Unfortunately, the LEGO Group decided to end the line on December 2022. Many ROBOTMAK3RS have been passionately involved with the development of MINDSTORMS through the MUP and MCP programs. Even with the newest Robot Inventor line, several ROBOTMAK3RS were invited to submit additional bonus models that were included in the official app. Regardless of the retirement of a major LEGO robotics product line, ROBOTMAK3RS continue to MAKE-SHARE-INSPIRE using all LEGO robotics platforms available to us. Here is the official statement from LEGO. Since its launch in September 1998, LEGO MINDSTORMS has been one of the core ‘Build & Code’ experiences in the company’s portfolio, carrying with it significant brand equity and becoming a stand-out experience for the early days of consumer robotics and leading to current Build & Code

Celebrating 25 Years of MINDSTORMS

In celebration of the 25th Anniversary of MINDSTORMS, we take a trip through history. Please also visit ROBOTMAK3RS Community every week as we highlight different projects all through 2023 in celebration of the anniversary. Some of the early history is based on the content shared by  Coder Shah  in our  MINDSTORMS EV3 Community Group . Some of the text and links may have been edited from his original posts for consistency and clarity.  1984 - Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen watched a TV program called "Talking Turtle," where MIT professor Seymour Papert demonstrated how children could control robot "turtles" using LOGO, a programming language he developed. 1988 - The collaboration between MIT and LEGO resulted in LEGO TC Logo in 1988, which allowed students to control LEGO models using computer commands. The video shows Papert demonstrating TC Logo. 1990 - LEGO TC Logo was hampered since the robots you built had to be tethered to a personal computer. LEGO and MIT

Celebrating MINDSTORMS with a Remix Part 1

In honor of the 25th Anniversary of MINDSTORMS, we asked ROBOTMAK3RS to combine a LEGO set of their choice with a MINDSTORMS set. Here is what these five ROBOTMAK3RS came up with.  MINDSTORMS Chess Assistant by Arvind Seshan Overview: When you are new to chess, it can be a challenge to remember which pieces go where. Now, you can use machine learning and LEGO MINDSTORMS Robot Inventor to build a tool to help you learn where all the chess pieces go on the chess board. Sets used: LEGO® Iconic Chess Set (40174) and MINDSTORMS Robot Inventor (51515) Review: I really like how the chess set base can store all the pieces underneath and that the board neatly splits in half for handy storage. The chess pieces themselves are very sturdy and well built. My only criticism is the building of the box itself. It was quite difficult to see what pieces to use and since the entire box is made mostly of thin plates, it took a lot of time and patience. I would have liked the storage area to be sliding dra