Lego Fusion Pulls Physical Builds Into The Digital World

Lego Fusion is an augmented-reality system that translates physical Lego creations into digital representations for use in tablet-based games.

Lego Fusion Pulls Physical Builds Into The Digital World
The Wall Street Journal

Lego, of all companies, is branching into augmented reality. Fusion is a system of Lego sets and accompanying augmented-reality apps.

You build a model from physical Lego bricks — a tradition that's been around in one form or another since 1949 — and then scan them into tablet-based apps. Lego reps tell The Wall Street Journal it's about enhancing that classic experience.

"For kids, really, it's just one world. It's all about the fun play to them. So we've taken what's so cool about the brick and what you build with the brick, but then we added an additional dimension to facilitate the kids' play."

Lego, perhaps surprisingly, is no stranger to augmented reality.

Five years ago the building-block company had kiosks in its stores that showed off what completed models looked like when you scanned the box. (Via YouTube / jshwbb)

Each of the kits uses a base that works as a marker for the apps, which then scan all the pieces connected to that base.

Builders can scan facades into a city-management game or rearrange physical bricks to repair damage sustained in a digital tower-defense game. The racing app gives physical bricks different stats to customize the in-game racers. (Via Pocket-lint)

"But before you go tipping out your mountains of Lego," warns Pocket-lint, "this uses special blocks that the app can recognise, meaning you have to shell out the $35 for the 200 Fusion set if you want to take part."

The apps are also currently limited to recognizing the bricks in a 16-by-16-stud square above the baseplate.

The Verge says Lego is joining the trend of app-based game play. Games like "Skylanders" and Disney's "Infinity" already make heavy use of this tech.

"Unlike all these, though, Lego Fusion doesn't scratch the collector's itch. Its designs seem designed to be ephemeral, getting put together, scanned, and taken apart on a whim."

Which, unless we're mistaken, is kind of the point of Lego to begin with. The company says Fusion sets will be available later this summer.