Lego Mindstorms NXT
When I hear the word Lego, technologically advanced and robotics aren’t the words that spring to mind. Unlike those plain old colored plastic blocks you remember from your childhood, Lego today has all sorts of advanced and cool toys out there, one of them being the Mindstorms NXT kit. Besides the blocks, you get a 32 bit microprocessor, some drag-and-drop programming software, touch sensors, and a whole lot more.
At the core of the NXT kit is the programming software which really makes it a cool product. In a drag-and-drop interface you can design all the actions you want your robot to do. Whatever you create is transferred to the “brain” a.k.a. the processor of the robot via USB or Bluetooth. With Bluetooth functionality, you can even control your robot from your cell phone. Making your robot move forward and backward is cool and all, but the NXT goes well beyond that. Robots you build can utilize a visual sensor that responds to movement, one that responds to touch + release, a light sensor that detects light changes, and three Servo motors for precise movement control.
As a kid, I never actually created my own Lego creations; I always relied on those handy step-by-step guides to create anything. Fortunately a quick-start guide and easy to use build instructions are included with the kit because we all know that it’s no fun unless you can make something awesome.
Your Lego sets as a kid definitely didn’t include Bluetooth and processors, and they definitely didn’t cost $250, but the Lego Mindstorms NXT kit does. Shop around at a local toy store if you’re interested in purchasing.