From the mid-1990s onwards, changes in digital development come fast and frequently, which spurs the LEGO Group to launch initiatives for new digital solutions and products. The following is a run-through of some of the digital milestones.
In 1994, a man visits the company. His name is Dent de Lion du Midi (Dandi to his friends), and he brings with him a video sequence which he wants to show the LEGO® owner and CEO, Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen. Dandi presents 100% computer generated LEGO System space ship models, which whizz through outer space. His plan to produce a database containing all LEGO elements in 3D is convincing. What are the potential and perspective of a computer-based 3D LEGO building system? This needs investigation and the Darwin project is born. The project encourages the idea of playing with LEGO bricks in a virtual environment and becomes a forerunner of later projects such as LEGO MINDSTORMS and LEGO computer games.
LEGO Group in cyberspace
In March 1996, the company launches its website. LEGO.com is a platform for developing a virtual LEGO universe to accommodate LEGO fans of all ages. The website is one of the first in Denmark to offer users a brand-new way of getting to know the company and its products.
Computer games, apps and the intelligent LEGO brick
LEGO Island, the first LEGO computer game, is launched in 1997. It is the first serious move to place the LEGO brick in the digital world. The following year sees the launch of the intelligent LEGO brick LEGO MINDSTORMS, developed in association with MIT, Boston. The intelligent LEGO brick can be built into a LEGO model and connected to a PC – after which the user can programme the model to do a series of different tasks. Years later, in 2006, The LEGO Group launch its first mobile app for the second generation MINDSTORMS, the NXT. The app is a Java app created for selected Symbian based smart phone handsets. It was, among other things, promoted and distributed through LEGO.com.
The first MMOG (Massively Multiplayer Online Game), LEGO Universe, is launched on October 8, 2010. It is a new step by the LEGO Group into the digital world by joining the very popular online gaming community, where players from across the world meet online to play. LEGO Universe shuts down on January 31, 2012.
In 2011, the LEGO Group launches its first so-called appcessory, “Life of George”. Life of George is the world’s first interactive game combining real, physical LEGO bricks with an app for iPhone.