While it’s still debatable whether the chicken came first or the egg, in the world of construction, Blueprints always came first before the thing that is built based on them. That’s until now.
In a move that turns the way architectural models are built on its head, AT&T has invented what may be best called the next generation of Lego blocks.
Architects, designers and engineers can now simply build a physical structure by using these smart LEGO blocks on top of a surface computer and the 3D blueprint of the structure is automatically generated.
While creating digital versions of 3D objects is not new, such existing technologies are limited to capturing only the exterior surface.
In contrast, these smart LEGO blocks allow even interior structural details to be captured and digitally represented.
Each smart LEGO block includes a magnet that enables it to be attached to other smart LEGO blocks. Additionally, these magnets are designed with different magnetic strengths. This enables the designer to create a unitary component using smart LEGO blocks having strong magnetic strengths. On the other hand, an attachment of the component to another component of the structure may be done with a smart LEGO block having weaker magnetic strength. As a result, subsequent rearrangement of components is made easier. Further, these smart LEGO blocks may be manufactured in a variety of sizes and shapes to enable construction of intricate structures such as models of buildings, cars, component parts etc.
To enable auto-generation of blueprints, each smart LEGO block further includes a unique marker such as a barcode. As a designer places and/or stacks smart LEGO blocks on the surface computer, a camera peers upward through the interactive display and captures digital pictures of an arrangement of the smart LEGO blocks. The surface computer analyzes the digital pictures and maps a location and identity of each building block. The surface computer then creates the 3D blueprint of the structure built atop the interactive display. Also, based on known magnetic strengths of the identified smart LEGO blocks, the 3D blueprint also inherits information about which blocks are to be treated as a unitary object. This allows software manipulations to be performed on the 3D blueprint at an object level.
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