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December 1, 2017

Lego AR-Studio blends the virtual and the physical for more block-building fun

by John_A

Every new platform needs some big-name content to gain momentum in the market, whether it’s an operating system needing important apps or a gaming platform needing popular titles. Apple has that content in spades when it comes to iOS, but its augmented reality (AR) platform, ARKit, still needs to pick up some steam if it’s going to be successful in competing with the more established competition. It’s received just that with the addition of Lego AR-Studio to its lineup.

As Wired reports, the new iOS app that’s being released today represents one of the Lego brand’s first forays into AR. As Tom Donaldson, vice president of the Lego Group’s Creative Play Lab, puts it, “This app is a completely new play from Lego, mixing the physical and digital. You hold an iPhone or an iPad in your hand, and you can see your surroundings on the screen — your room, your table, that sort of thing. It can sense surfaces, and you can place virtual Lego models into your real world.”

Lego AR-Studio isn’t a direct replacement for the physical versions of the company’s iconic modular blocks. Rather, it allows kids to layer the AR experience on top of the physical world and play with both virtual and physical elements at the same time. For now, the AR blocks don’t directly recognize their physical versions, but implementing the capability is a goal that Lego is actively working toward.

In addition, as Forbes points out, AR-Studio lets kids add in active Lego characters that interact with whatever virtual Lego elements happen to be in a particular scene, and then utilize scrips that carry out actions in response. This creates an interactive element that makes the entire experience more engaging.

For now, AR-Studio is only available for iOS 11 devices that support ARKit and sport A9 processors and better. That means the iPhone 6S and later, the 2017 iPad, and the iPad Pro. Supported Lego sets include:

  • 60047 — Lego City Police Station
  • 60052 — Lego City Train Set
  • 60110 — Lego City Fire Station
  • 70593 — Lego Ninjago The Green NRG Dragon
  • 70632 — Lego Ninjago Movie — Cole’s Mech
  • 70618 — Lego Ninjago Movie — Destiny’s Bounty

Kids can also share their experiences with videos creating using AR-Studio, making it a social affair. For now, the entire experience comes at no charge, but there’s likely room for Lego to adopt an in-app purchase model.

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