Lego goes hi-tech with a chip in the old brick

THAT most traditional of children's toys, the Lego building brick, is about to make a dramatic move into the age of technology. A new Lego brick, which can be fitted with a microchip, will enable children to create robots and moving dinosaurs, cars and elevators, writes Colin Blackstock.

The plastic building blocks from Denmark have been a staple toy since their launch in 1932 but children - and, no doubt, some parents - will now be able to make toys that can turn on the TV when you enter the room.

The new bricks, developed by Lego and the Media Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, USA, will be unveiled this week at London's Royal College of Art.

The bricks, to be called Mindstorms, are programmable via a graphics- driven menu. Tasks are assigned via images on a computer screen. The information is downloaded to the brick via a tiny computer inside it.

Mitchel Resnick, professor of the Media Laboratory at MIT, said: "You will be able to plug different lights, motors and sensors - either heat, light or touch - into each brick and then tell each brick how to behave. Kids get to see themselves as inventors."

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