Lego remains one of the best loved and best selling kids toys. And they’re no slouch when it comes to advances in technology either. Products like Lego Mindstorms and Lego Universe pushed the Lego envelope by melding real land virtual play.
The newest high touch meets high tech collection is Lego Fusion — a mashup of traditional Lego play and augmented reality. Lego Fusion allows kids to build a 2D Lego house that sits on a special base embedded with a QR code. Kids construct a house façade on the base building walls, windows and doors. Then they snap a picture with an iOS or Android device using the downloaded Lego FUSION app. In seconds they’re whisked into a Sim City like virtual world where they build out the their world with other structures and meet all the fun Lego characters.
Working with Qualcomm Vuforia’s augmented reality tools, this Lego implementation of augmented reality is significantly more fun than other straight photo capture AR because here you’re creating a 2D model first.
Each LEGO FUSION consists of a set of about 200 LEGO bricks, the free downloadable app game and a FUSION base embedded with the printed design code. Children build vertically in dimensions up to 16 bricks high by 16 bricks wide (the optimal size for capture by a smartphone or tablet capture). Once the building is captured the child is whisked into the 3D environment game greeted by Lego friends and a simple story line.
I got to try out Master Town which asked me to keep my inhabitants happy by adding newspaper kiosk, vending machines and pizza joints to my town environment. Various forces depleted my city’s budget or let my flourish. I learned to be a bit smart about which tools I chose. For example, more doors gave some of my characters easier passages and building the kiosk in town was a stroke of brilliance in terms of my score. There are also two other Fusion sets available: one called Battle Tower Version (knights and castle themed) and a Create and Race (race car themed) .
Lego’s Future Lab in Denmark is always cooking up something cutting edge, but what I like about Fusion is that it stays faithful to the Lego brand and makes the AR feel seamless. In other words — unlike other AR experiences that feel a bit gratuitous Lego Fusion is all about the brick.
Available in Aug. for $34.95 per set.