Brickit App makes augmented reality useful

Brickit is an app that uses your phone’s camera, augmented reality, and machine vision to do one really cool thing: help you make cool LEGO toys out of the bricks you already have.

The Brickit app scans a photo of your pile of un-sorted bricks. It figures out which bricks you have. It recommends instructions for things you can make based on what it knows you have in the pile. And then when you’re making them? It highlights where the parts you need are in the pile.

In the old days, LEGO were for imagination. You’d get a box or bucket of bricks, no instructions, and you’d make all kinds of multi-colored creations, and then play with them, imagining different worlds.

That’s not entirely true, of course. As early as the 50’s there were LEGO branded sets for making small homes and other creations. But most of my childhood was just making things from random mixed colors of bricks, without instructions.

Now, we have complex sets with complex instructions, and custom pieces to make shapes that we could only approximate in the past. But if you just want to make something out of what you have?

Brickit helps with this. And, it makes one of the first really easy to understand and use Augmented Reality applications that isn’t “measuring walls in my house”. I get it: making house plans is cool, but this is something you can use, use naturally in the process of making LEGO.

It’s not perfectly accurate. When it scans for pieces, it ignores colors. This is fine if you’re just making whatever, but if you’re making a pink flamingo, you might want to search for pieces in pink. It obviously can’t spot pieces that are buried under other pieces. But for what it is, I think it’s very cool.

It doesn’t try too hard – it’s not Minecraft in AR, where you have to move the display all around, or have a flat table space to project it on. It’s just a tool for making use of the bricks you have easier, and an excellent demonstration of how computer vision can augment reality without being an imposition.

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