07-25-2014 12:22 PM
Mark Bollobas and his friends spent lots of their time playing with Legos and trying to find add-ons to make the activity more fun. They developed SBrick as an app to control Lego creations, to pump new life into their current bricks, and build a social network for users to play together.
Bollobas had the idea that a great remote control would be able to fit in the palm of the user's hand and control any device. The remote should be fully customizable, and give the user security and access control along with device feedback. All of these characteristics are built into the SmarkBrick.
The team built the SBrick with a Bluetooth Low Energy chip that controls four parameters. The brick sends a signal back to the smart phone to give information about battery power and position. SBrick can be used to control direction and power of motors and light intensity.
SBrick works at a range of up to 100 meters, and control can be shared with multiple users if desired. Child Mode is available to give a simplified version of the control system and hide the advanced settings. The brick itself is small enough that it hides inside most Lego vehicle builds without being seen.
The Kickstarter campaign is asking for ₤ 60,000 to cover the first round of production tools and manufacturing costs. A secondary goal of the project is to gain more data points of product evaluation and improve the future versions of the brick.
This project is awesome on a few levels. Hacking a new level of Lego control is great, but the communityand customization possibilities give the project extra appeal. The campaign shows several remote control profiles built with the app's Profile Designer, my favorite looks like a car's dashboard with controls to steer, move forward or reverse, and engage the spoiler.
SBrick is a fully realized project, a fully realized app and boasts a full team of engineers and developers. Additionally, public testing has been going on for a few months and is constantly being used to update and improve the brick.
The Kickstarter funding page is in itself a great feat of engineering. The design process is outlined discussing the team's high and low points. A pictorial timeline shows different prototype iterations and the struggle to develop an Android app. Different materials and their properties are discussed, along with the choices made on connector placement and number.