Augmented Reality (AR) is not just the stuff of wearable displays (like Google Glass and Microsoft’s HoloLens), ghostly virtual assistants, and floating keyboards any more. In a perfectly appropriate blend of real and virtual innovation, LEGO has found a way to use AR that embellishes the building blocks and increases creativity and real-world play (rather than take away from it) with the LEGO Fusion group of sets.
Each of the three LEGO Fusion kits has a specific set of LEGO bricks (only those bricks, in those colors, will be recognized), a corresponding application, and a special “capture plate,” a small building plate with a printed design that allows the device’s camera to identify the size and colors of the LEGO bricks built onto it. Two of the kits, the Town Master and the Resort Designer, feature the creation of a collection of buildings that meets the desires of the LEGO characters that inhabit them. Through the application, the inhabitants ask for restaurants, shops, roads, and more… then it is up to the user to simply create.
Of course, the most important opinion on LEGO Fusion is from the real users, the kids that play with it.
Clearly, the kids at RethinkToys enjoy LEGO Fusion, and a follow-up with Leila Hudson was just as excited. She is still building her resort and actively playing with the LEGO friends in the virtual world.
The third kit is the LEGO Fusion Battle Towers, a wonderful mashup of LEGO and a tower defense game. After designing a tower, you must defend it with in-game characters and skills. As each day passes, you can repair and redesign your battle tower to earn studs and unlock special features.
LEGO Fusion is not the newest product (it was released in Summer 2014), but it is an innovative use of the classic LEGO that embraces the mobility of the tablet while reinforcing a connection to the real-world building blocks… and therefore off-screen play. When the user is away from their LEGO set, interactions with the scanned projects is still available through the app, and gameplay continues.