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LAS VEGAS—Lego announced a new building set here at CES, with a focus on introducing young children to the basics of programming. Lego Boost combines building blocks with sensors, motors, and app control to let kids build a variety of robots that can respond to stimulii.

CES 2017 BugThe Boost kit is controlled by the Move Hub, a special Lego brick with a tilt sensor and a selection of connections for the included motors and visual/color sensor. The Move hub communicates with a smartphone or tablet running the Boost app, which determines how the hub and its connected devices behave. The kit and app provide instructions for building five different robotics projects, including a Short Circuit-like robot, a cat, a vehicle, a guitar, and even a 3D printer.

Learn to Code

The robot, cat, and vehicle all seem like fairly standard projects for electronic building block kits like Boost, and versions have been seen in Lego's more complex Mindstorms robotics kits. The guitar shows off unique potential with the visual/color sensor, responding to colored bricks on the fret to signal the connected mobile device to produce different tones. The 3D printer is even more unique, assembling its own Lego creations using a simple conveyor belt and hopper assembly.

Boost creations are programmed using a variety of interconnecting blocks in the Boost app. The system is similar to Lego Mindstorms programming, but with a simpler interface targeting younger users. It still provides logic functions for use with input from the kit's sensors and output from the motors and the connected mobile device's speaker. Users can code their own robots to work any way they want in Creative Canvas mode, providing access to the programming tools outside of the five premade projects.

Mindstorms's Little Brother

Boost is not a replacement for Lego Mindstorms, which has been the company's flagship robotics platform for several years. The Move Hub is solely a transmitter and receiver device, offloading all programming and processing to the connected tablet and app.