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A Lego Robot Cam?

Boot Camp feature for Thursday, September 21, 2000

Played with Legos lately? The new, high tech variety? I'm Fred Fishkin with Bloomberg Bootcamp. Build a programmable robot that can see... with Legos! It's the latest kit from Lego Mindstorms... a company that has blended those familiar plastic blocks with technology from MIT. Model designer Anthony Fudd says it's called Vision Command...

"And with Vision Command you can take your robots to the next level. Basically, with Vision Command you can give your robots basic vision. At the heart of it is a little PC camera we call LegoCam. And this camera has all the functionality of a regular Web cam. You can take pictures and video and you can email those things and edit them. But you can also program the camera to respond to what it sees. Basically, that's possible because the camera can respond to light intensity, motion and colors."

Sure, it's a toy... but you can create some pretty useful devices too...

"You can make a motion sensitive robot that could turn on your lights when you walk into the room. A robot that could not only announce a visitor's arrival, but then you could actually look on the screen and see who it is."

You'll need a computer running Windows 98 to do the actual programming of the camera and robot. The 99 dollar kit can work with the motorized Mindstorms Robotic Invention System. And if you give the kids a chance to get near it, keep in mind it's designed for ages 12 and up. You can find more information at Legomindstorms.com. Bootcamp, I'm Fred Fishkin, Bloomberg News.