HiTechnic to Develop Sensors for LEGO MINDSTORMS Robotics Platform

The LEGO Group today announced partnership with HiTechnic to allow the manufacture and sale of hardware accessories certified by the LEGO Group for the newly-released LEGO(R) MINDSTORMS(R) NXT robotics toolset. This debut partnership represents the evolution of the company’s commitment to community-driven innovation and open-source development surrounding the launch of its next generation robotics system.

The third-party licensing agreement allows HiTechnic access to official LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT sensor housings to develop and market accessory sensors compatible with NXT that are complimentary to the look, style and function of the NXT toolset. HiTechnic’s sensors also will integrate seamlessly within the NXT software programming environment and are tested to the same high quality and tolerance standards as the LEGO Group’s own manufactured products.

The first third-party sensor, a digital compass sensor which provides a magnetic heading that can be used for navigation and orientation of NXT robots, is scheduled for release in late September 2006. An RGB color sensor that allows robots to accurately identify and respond to the actual color of a target is scheduled to follow later this year.

“This partnership marks a new era in the LEGO Group’s increasing collaboration with lead user innovators to deliver physical products that further enhance the potential of the LEGO MINDSTORMS platform,” said Paal Smith-Myer, director, new business development for the LEGO Group. “We are excited about our collaboration with HiTechnic and look forward to working with them and future third parties to expand enthusiasts’ ability to build and program robots that do what they want.”

“We are very excited to launch the first third-party sensor for the new MINDSTORMS NXT platform,” said Stephen Barker of HiTechnic. “While the stand-alone retail product provides an engaging robotics experience out-of-the-box, we believe that additional components such as the compass and RBG color sensors we’ve developed will challenge the growing community of hobbyists who are eager to push the platform in new ways.”

LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT is a robotics toolset that provides endless opportunities for armchair inventors, robotics fanatics and LEGO builders ages 10 and older to build and program robots that do what they want. The set includes 571 LEGO TECHNIC(R) pieces, the NXT intelligent brick, touch, light, ultrasonic and sound sensors, 3 interactive servo motors, USB 2.0 cable, is Bluetooth enabled and features a new PC/MAC compatible programming software powered by LabVIEW from National Instruments that features 18 robotics building and programming challenges to inspire robotics creation.

MINDSTORMS NXT is now available at most toy and discount merchandise retailers, like Toys “R” Us and Target, select consumer electronics retailers, like Best Buy and Comp USA, specialty retailers like Apple Stores and FAO Schwarz, or online at Wal-Mart.com, Amazon.com and LEGO.com, at a suggested retail price of $249.99 (USD) and $ 349.99 (CAD). A special version for school and institutional use is releasing later this year.

About the LEGO Group
The LEGO Group, a privately-held, family-owned company based in Billund, Denmark, is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of play materials for children. The company is committed to the development of children’s creative and imaginative abilities, and its employees are guided by the motto adopted in the 1930s by founder Ole Kirk Christiansen: “Only the best is good enough.”

About HiTechnic
HiTechnic is a wholly owned subsidiary of Dataport Systems Inc., a privately held company with offices in Utica, NY, and Miami FL. Dataport has been developing technology-based solutions for the computer and robotics industries since 1986.

LEGO, MINDSTORMS and their respective logos are trademarks of the LEGO Group.