LEGO Playgrounds: A Mixed Reality Portal Of Innovation

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Have you ever wanted to jump through a mysterious portal and travel to a brand new universe where you loose all sense of space and time? LEGO Playgrounds, LEGO’s latest AR app-based channel, allows you to do precisely that.

The LEGO Playgrounds portal is one of the latest LEGO digital innovations; a connected play experience designed to encourage kids and LEGO fans of all ages to create and interact with the physical and digital worlds.

One of the cool things about LEGO Playgrounds is that it provides  a sneak peek into new and evolving LEGO digital experiences. LEGO is treating LEGO Playgrounds as an experimental testing ground to gain insights and feedback to improve connected play experiences.

“Children today are mastering the art of finding new moments and forms of play and LEGO Playgrounds will provide a ‘live’ opportunity to test and learn directly with them” said Tom Donaldson, Vice President of Creative Play Lab at the LEGO Group. “It’s truly a unique way to engage with them in a fun and experimental way and bring them close to our innovation process. Having this direct-link to users creates a win for everybody – sharing the latest play experiences is great fun for children and highly useful for our LEGO design and development teams who can take their feedback and use it to make launch experiences even better and more engaging.”

The first LEGO Playgrounds experiment is LEGO Ninjago AR, an augmented reality gaming experience that detects select physical LEGO Ninjago Dragon Hunters sets and brings them to life. Current compatible sets include Dieselnaut (#70654) and the LEGO® Ninjago Dragon’s Pit (#70655).

Players can select their favorite Ninjago characters; Jay, Zane, Kai, and Cole, to test ninja skills, use the power of Spinjitzu to defeat the Dragon Hunters, share power-ups, compare high-scores, and create unique gaming experiences.

Multiplayer mode allows players to play in a shared space thanks to Apple’s ARKit technology, as showcased at WWDC. While the compatible sets definitely add to the fun of Ninjago LEGO Playground, you can play with or without the LEGO sets. The LEGO Playgrounds app is free to play, there are no in-app purchases, ads, or marketing messages.

After putting the LEGO Playground app into the hands of  nine-year old James, an avid gamer and LEGO fan, he immediately jumped into the play experience.

“I like the Ninjago game because you get to battle, go through the waves and you are able to win – it would be fun to play with my friends too,” James said.

Since LEGO Playgrounds is a testbed for experimentation, we asked James what would make it better?

According to James, a priority on customization is crucial. “I think it would be better if there were a shop that you get things in, like weapons, new characters and new power ups where you are able to build,” he explains. “If I was Zane, maybe I could fight with Kai, I’d like to be able to do that. I’d like to have a whole team and different areas to play.”

This isn’t LEGO’s first go at bringing their bricks to life in the digital world. Past connected experiences have included scan-and-play LEGO FusionLEGO Dimensions, and an augmented reality portfolio that includes, LEGO AR StudioLEGO BrickHeadz, and now LEGO Playgrounds.

Will we see some of James’s feedback in future versions of LEGO Playgrounds? It’s a little early to say, but it will be exciting to explore, create, connect, play, and experiment with the LEGO Playground and future immersive innovations from LEGO.

Image Credit: The Lego Group

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About Author

IT and video games are Bryan's topics of interest since a very early age. Video games, the Internet, game consoles and computers became his normal toys, as a result, writing about the infancy of the Web, Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality/Mixed Reality, the games industry and hardware in general. Writing, along with his other interests: programming, hardware, photography, and traveling. Technology, in general, makes him tick.

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