Lego’s new augmented reality app brings bricks to life

Children can play with Lego sets in the virtual and real world at the same time, thanks to a new augmented reality app which brings the bricks to life.

Lego AR-Studio is a creative tool, developed with Apple’s ARKit, that allows children to play with digital versions of some of the most popular Lego sets in real-world scenes, using augmented reality that mixes them with physical Lego models.

It’s designed to bring Lego sets to life with animations and audiovisual effects. Features include a dragon breathing fire, trains sounding a horn, and a Lego firetruck using a fire-hose — all of which can be activated while playing. Virtual golden bricks are also hidden around in the Lego AR environment, for children to search and collect while playing.

Tom Donaldson, VP of the Creative Play Lab at the Lego Group, told Wired: “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.”

The free iOS app lets users explore and control animated versions of Lego models in real-world environments, making and playing out their own stories and adventures. Users can also record the action and save video clips directly to their device.

“The play experience in Lego AR-Studio is open-ended, leaving children’s imagination and creativity to shape up the play universe,” Donaldson explained. “It allows children to play in engaging ways, while having ‘one hand in each world’ — playing and building with the physical Lego models, while holding on to their device and bringing sets to life.”

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