Boys Toys: Nothing beats this!

I can live with the fact that i am a kid at heart…not just heart, make that mind and soul …and in order to be true to myself and keep myself interested, intrigued and engaged i’m constantly on the lookout for more toys…

As a child, i was fortunate enough to have parents who ensured i had the right toys to think the right way…..so Lego blocks, my Technic bucket, assorted ‘dinky toys’ (over 80 of them), a railway set, Atari & a ‘Media’ gaming set, tonnes of ‘101 in one’ gaming catridges (and the list goes on) kept me busy…with the advent of the PC…the PC became the new toy… i spent most of my college life playing NFS (something i’m not sure i’ve grown out of)…and once the PC / Mobile Phone combo arrived, they suddenly turned into all the toys I needed…

In college, i became a gaming enthusiast, and once i started working with Juno i discovered the joys of unix, daemons, servers & the internet. While the internet is by far my biggest toy / playground (i’m on the threshold of starting to develop a 3D Vision of it – Audience, Tech & Brand), the PC & Mobile combo isn’t far behind…. can we ever get enough of whats new….think of it …. Windows OS – Symbian OS, Office 2007, PC Apps – Java Apps – Symbian Apps, Web Services, Plugins for Firefox, Yahoo! Widgets, Microsoft Gadgets, Google Gadgets, Opera Widgets, Float’s Mobile Agent, Bluetooth controls, p2p, torrents, advanced charting tools for excel, Second Life, Comscore Stats, Forrester Data, eMarketer Info, NFS, Search Engines, Blog Tools, WordPress, Rich Media, Web 2.0, rss, Syndication, and this list goes on and on and on…. could anything ever tear me away from a world centered around the PC / Internet?

Till two weeks back, i honestly believed i had access to most of the toys i wanted…(except my imaginary auto collection) and was relatively content with the toys i could afford…. and then, De introduced me to a concept called MindStorms NXT. Made by Lego, the guys i owe my sense of reasoning, logic and proportion to, this is the stuff dreams are made up of!

Mindstorms is about building Robots… not tiddly fink $0.02 robots….but robots with base functionalities that include Light Sensors, Touch Sensors, Sound Sensors, a programmable brain, intelligent robots that walk, have ultrasonic sensors to make the robot see, a 32bit microprocessor, 4 input / 3 output ports, USB / Bluetooth compliance, a speaker, display and the Lego Mindstorms NXT software which allows you to program your NXT and upload new programs via USB or Bluetooth connectivity. The software, comes with building instructions & programming guides to easily begin constructing and programming. As simple as Lego, as complex as Asimo; they might as well take rizla’s tagline – It’s what you make of it!

If the base functionality isn’t enough for you the software you could scale up to NXT Extreme!!!
Since Mindstorms is open-source you can use the SDK (Software Development Kit) which includes the NXT driver interface specifications and tools to create 3rd party programming environments.
The HDK (Hardware Development Kit) includes documentation and schematics for the NXT and all related sensors. This enables you to design and develop your own sensors and actuators that can interact with and control the NXT through various digital and analog interfaces.
And to top it off, the Bluetooth Developer Kit can be used to create apps for various Bluetooth devices to communicate with MINDSTORMS NXT robots.

So to put it in perspective, one of the simplest things you can do with your mindstorms, is have your Mindstorms crawl the room on voice command (via a bluetooth headset or voice) , spot a red object, send a photo of the object to your phone, send a command to play the file crisis.wav on your computer, then turn around and come back at 2x the pace. If the lights go out during this period, then move to the closest corner, turn on all its lights, camera and beam the video to a remote ftp server.

So what does Mindstorms cost …. you wouldnt believe it – USD 249!!!!!!
However, that is $240 more than i can afford at this time and so i’m setting up a paypal fund so that nice people like you can contribute a dollar each to help me live my dreams! (does that sound convincing enough 🙂 … the paypal account you can pay into is [email protected] … my top 10 donors get my inventions named after them and some emotional satisfaction and most importantly some ‘very good karma’)! 🙂

Here are some cool links:

The coolest Mindstorms applications : LEGO MINDSTORMS Hall of Fame
The team that built Mindstorms: Meet the MDP
NBC (Next Byte Codes) http://bricxcc.sourceforge.net/nbc
Microsoft Robotics studio http://msdn.microsoft.com/robotics
HiTechnic Products http://www.hitechnic.com
Mindsensors.com http://www.mindsensors.com

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