Brixo blocks can make your standard Lego models come to life. Brixo blocks can make your standard Lego models come to life. Brixo blocks can make your standard Lego models come to life. (Photo: YouTube screenshot)

Lego-like superblocks might be the hot holiday toy

Thanks to a new product, standard Legos can turn into moving objects with light, sound and sensors.

Legos on steroids? Building blocks of the future? This year's hot holiday toy?

Buzzwords abound for Brixo blocks, a new product from Israeli scientists Amir Saraf and Boaz Almog, both quantum physics researchers at Tel Aviv University. These innovative Lego-like bricks are chrome-coated, battery-powered and compatible with standard Legos, so you can bring your existing designs to life. Some have LED lights; others have sound and proximity sensors. And unlike other electric building blocks on the market, Brixo blocks are wireless.

Lest you thought you were the only one jumping for joy over this new invention, consider this: an Indiegogo campaign launched in April has yielded more than $1 million in crowdfunds for the project. That's an impressive 1443% increase over Brixo's original goal.

And in case you're short on ideas on exactly what you can make with these bricks, Almog and Saraf have a few of their own. "You can set your phone's alarm clock to only shut off when you build a pyramid," they explained on their Indiegogo page. "Or you make a treat dispenser that gives your pup a treat every time he goes to his crate when there’s a knock at the door. Or help your kid build a nightlight that turns on when he says 'heebeejeebee.'"

So how did the idea for Brixo materialize? Almog says it was inspired by his own son, who proudly showed him an electric science kit he had put together. "I asked him where the circuit was and he looked at me puzzled," Almog explained. "I quickly realized he couldn’t see it through the forest of tangled wires on his breadboard. Not a moment later, he went back to playing with his favorite toy, Lego, and the idea for Brixo revealed itself."

Brixo blocks are chrome-coated and battery-powered electrical conductors.Brixo blocks are chrome-coated and battery-powered electrical conductors. (Photo: Courtesy of Brixo)

Initially, he said, he and Saraf tried to embed wires into existing blocks, but quickly discovered two important things: the blocks must be simple (read: no wires) and fully compatible with standard building blocks.

"As physicists, we deal with thin films all day long, so the solution to use a conductive chrome coating was right in front of our eyes," Almog said. "Several trials and prototypes later, the idea formed into the fun and educational electricity-conducting building blocks they are today."

Boaz Almog and Amir Saraf launched Brixo last spring.Boaz Almog and Amir Saraf launched Brixo last spring. (Photo: Courtesy of Brixo)

And there's even more good news. Brixo, which launched its crowdfunding campaign in April and has since amassed more than 3,000 backers, is getting ready to ship the product this month.

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