AI + LEGO = A Brickton Of Ideas

What if there was some magic device that could somehow scan all your LEGO and tell you what you can make with it? It’s a childhood dream come true, right? Well, that device is in your pocket. Just dump out your LEGO stash on the carpet, spread it out so there’s only one layer, scan it with your phone, and after a short wait, you get a list of all the the fun things you can make. With building instructions. And oh yeah, it shows you where each brick is in the pile.

We are talking about the BrickIt app, which is available for Android and Apple. Check it out in the short demo after the break. Having personally tried the app, we can say it does what it says it does and is in fact quite cool.

As much as it may pain you to have to pick up all those bricks when you’re finished, it really does work better against a neutral background like light-colored carpet. In an attempt to keep the bricks corralled, we tried a wooden tray, and it didn’t seem to be working as well as it probably could have — it didn’t hold that many bricks, and they couldn’t be spread out that far.

And the only real downside is that results are limited because there’s a paid version. And the app is kind of constantly reminding you of what you’re missing out on. But it’s still really, really cool, so check it out.

We don’t have to tell you how versatile LEGO is. But have you seen this keyboard stand, or this PCB vise?

Thanks to [Keith Olson] for the tip!

38 thoughts on “AI + LEGO = A Brickton Of Ideas

        1. Yeah, and still causing us hobbyist R/C guys fits. Almost lost our field over ‘drones’ due to the bad apples that fly ‘any where’ and photo ‘anything’ and are classified right along with R/C model airplanes, helis, and jets (all drones in the FAA eyes now).

          1. You knew regulation was coming for us. We were having too much fun for it to be unregulated. Drones were just the excuse to crack down on all the fun and legislate model aviation into a full time job and need a lawyer to stay in the rules.

      1. It would be interesting to apply this idea to archeology–snap a picture of a tray full of pottery shards or skull fragments and have the AI direct guide you in its proper re-assembly.

    1. That’s how I’ve always felt about Lego sets with instructions to build a specific thing. No imagination required. I was the same way with model cars. I never had more than two minutes worth of interest in following a set of instructions to build the car pictured on the box. But, give me a box of unfinished kits and leftover parts and I’d spend a full day putting something together that was never supposed to exist. (I’ve recently learned that some people made up a term “kit bashing” to describe such activities.)

      On the other hand, there are plenty of people who enjoy assembling kits. There is probably a reasonably strong audience for the “tell me what I can build” scanner.

      1. There is a certain mass of Lego required to really allow much in the way of creativity, and to really get creative probably means then buying lots of a specific part once you have a really cool idea you want to make. Look at things like the Great Ball Contraptions, lots of parts in there you just won’t have x of by happy accident, but you probably have a handful to prove the idea, or at least one that gets you thinking…

        So if you are just starting to buy into Lego and don’t get a particularly big set, wide collection of the smaller ones or huge pile of second hand stuff building the kit almost all you can do, especially with modern Lego that has so many more parts that are more limited in building options but look good. A really good example being the modern Lego Technic line vs the older ones – all those studless beams in a myriad of shapes are really useful for compact functionality (if you have the exact right form of beam available) and pretty models, but massively less reconfigurable than the same style of kit built with the studded beams and a huge pile of basic bricks.

      2. Yeah, but Lego with instructions is useful, especially the Technic stuff because it teaches mechanical principles like gearing, drivetrains, rack & pinion etc. which are (sorry) building blocks for your own designs.

        The recent trend for film tie in kits which are essentially single purpose Lego is far more damaging IMHO (but also fun).

    2. This overlooks a key point of lego, actually playing with the assembled toy. There’s just as much imagination necessary to build a rich world around any creation, AI designed or not. This tool looks like a great way to get kids a starting point for further exploration

    3. While I agree Lego can also be more like the dolls house, a stage to play your imagination out upon that happens to be reconfigurable. So a tool like this or some RNG cards to provide a prompt can be good for your imagination and if the app is sophisticated enough teach you some cool building techniques – “cool I built a wadding bird like creature, clearly they need a pet cricket made from all those droid arms, or a wizard caricature to ride them”, or ‘Wow I didn’t know those bits would work together that way! Now what else can I do?’ etc. So its a problem if you really outsource ALL the imagination.

      I do agree mostly, and you’d never get me using such an app though. Go talk to real people (perhaps preferably children with their less jaded, rigid and fixed views on the proper shape of the world), play with the bits till something inspires you, look out the window etc to get your ideas. And then master the art of of shape identification yourself – it is part of the fun and a useful skill!

    4. Well, honestly, if I can tell it what I want to build or just what bricks I need it to find, and it could tell me where to find them in the giant pile, that would be pretty awesome. There comes a point when one has accumulated so many bricks that building anything becomes a challenge. The old “I KNOW there’s one those doohickeys in there somewhere” problem. Up until now the solution has been “spend a long time hunting through the pile” or “order another one from BrickLink”. That last one only adds to the problem in the end, of course.

    5. What’s the point of art schools? drama schools? First you learn the skills, then you can apply your own creativeness to make something new.

      Sure there are always going to be geniuses who can just “do it” straight away without any skill learning, but they are the exception to the rule.

      This app, plus standard lego instructions, can give you an insight into lego building techniques that you can then use for your own creations.

    6. Lego sets come with instructions so that we can learn how to build. This is no different.

      Think about it like this: if I asked you to draw me an orc but you don’t know what an orc is, the first think you’d do is look up an image of an orc, right?

      What this does is provide starting g points for further creativity and growth.

    7. If that’s the point then why is Lego the world’s most popular toy, becoming that way only after selling prepackaged kits with specific instructions to build a specific model.

      It’s about building something…

    8. I agree, but when given potatoes, make vodka.
      Wonder how hard it would be to lash this app to a software stack controlling computer vision and robotics to make a setup that builds automatically.
      Still, I’ll never understand those damn adult coloring books.

  1. Still trying to figure out what a “brickton” is in SI units. Probably m^3*kg assuming “brick” is a unit of volume. But if “brick” is a unit of mass, then kg^2??? What if “brick” is a dimensionless number referring to the number of “dots” on a standard lego brick (what is a “standard lego brick” anyways?)?

      1. how do you pronounce those stars? I’m a little confused. or is this the strange discrepancy in the United States culture that you can say things that hurt people, but not things that create people?
        yes I’m European.

        1. Ah, as a fellow European I believe the confusion is in the units, we have the Metric F**kton and Metric Sh*tton whereas our colonial cousins use their own units, I think their equivalents are the Flangiwibble Fu*c*ton and the Dranglewhoop S*it*on?

  2. “But you’re supposed to use your imaginatioN!!!1!” – umm there is more than one way to play with Lego. I love doing “reverse build” puzzles where you start with a picture of the finished object and try and build it without instructions. This app is PERFECT for this, as it’ll give you objects you already have all the parts for, so there is no concern that you’re missing some obscure piece that was only present in a single set in 1974 and has never been produced since. Can’t wait to try this out!

  3. I was thinking about an app that can scan my piles of resistors and tell me what values i have, or search for a resistor i’m looking for and point it out. I can’t program it myself but i know it can work.

  4. I downloaded this app as soon as it came out but i was disappointed as its not really using AI, it does not generate a list of unique things to build based off your parts, its great it can identify all the pieces you have but then it has a standard list of things to build and generally you find you dont have all the pieces to build them. This would be way better if it could generate cool stuff based from your pieces or even tell you what sets you have bought.

    Further as to the discussion above, I always thought that buying the sets and building them gave you the skills and patterns you need to build other things that are more creative.

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