New Lego Mindstorms will bring better robotics to kids and grown-ups alike

When Lego released the first Mindstorms kit in 1998, it may have thought it was just releasing a robotics kit for kids. Since then, though, the venerable Mindstorms and Mindstorms NXT kits have made their way into all sorts of creations. Mindstorms wheelchair? Check. A robotics competition league for kids based entirely around Mindstorms kits? Yep. It even made its way into serious scientific research.

Not content with all that, Lego announced Sunday night a new generation of Mindstorms kits that features more modern technology and added flexibility for your next DIY project.

The Lego Mindstorms EV3 platform replaces the Mindstorms NXT 2.0 line, which came out in 2009. Like previous Mindstorms kits, the EV3 line is based around what Lego calls a programmable brick that acts as the brains of your creations. The EV3 Intelligent brick, as it's called, includes a number of new features, like an infrared sensor, new Linux-based firmware, a USB port, and an SD card slot.

The Lego Group

The new brick also comes with Bluetooth support, and it lets you program the brick without having to connect it to your PC thanks to improved on-brick programming capabilities. The new brick also works with iOS and Android, so you can use your smartphone to remotely control your Mindstorms EV3 creations. The programming software kit itself works on both Windows and Mac OS X.

Also new are 3D building instructions that you'll be able to view on your tablet. The new app will let you zoom in and rotate around every step in the instructions, so you can more clearly see what you're building.

The new EV3 sets will be backwards compatible with NXT kits, so if you have a Mindstorms set at home, you'll be able to use it with this new generation of Mindstorms.

If you want a Mindstorms EV3 kit, you'll have to wait a little bit: The new kit won't come out until the second half of this year, and it'll cost $349.

For more blogs, stories, photos, and video from the nation's largest consumer electronics show, check out our complete coverage of CES 2013.

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