10:38 AM

Lego Picks 100 Techies For Robotics Toyland

Robotics enthusiasts from 79 countries applied online to join Lego's Mindstorms Developer Program. Participants will help develop the company's Mindstorms NXT robotics line.

The Lego Group's robotics team on Friday released information on 100 participants picked to join its Mindstorms Developer Program, a group of software and robotic aficionados picked to help guide product development for the Lego Mindstorms NXT robotics line.

An overwhelming 9,610 robotics enthusiasts, ages 18 to 75 from 79 countries, responded to the one-month online application process. The software developers have four months to experiment with the product before they begin working together developing products.

Lego said participants are divided into three groups: Software/Hardware Development, Inventions and Creations, and Community. Developers have access to a secure Web forum where they communicate with one another, learn more about the project, debate issues, decide on solutions and help shape the community that supports the Lego Mindstorms NXT launch.

The recruited developers are chaired by Mitch Resnick from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab. About half the 100 selected software developers are less than 35 years old.

More than 20 percent work in software, quality assurance, or the database administration field. Nearly 20 percent are teachers or educators; 13 are architects or engineers. Forty percent are from the United States.

Techie enthusiasts attending the January preview at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas got their first glimpse of Lego Mindstorms NXT, scheduled to hit stores in August and retail for $249.

Users still program the robotics on their PCs, but the new controller has a 32-bit processor, up from 8-bit processor in an earlier version. This allows robots to perform more complex tasks. Sensors allow the robotics to walk, see, talk, and hear.

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