So I was really excited to hear that after five years, Lego is coming out with a new version of Mindstorms, the geeks' favorite programmable robot construction set. The new version, which was announced this evening at CES, is called Mindstorms NXT. It has a 32-bit processor, proper servo motors, new sensors (including color vision and hearing) and bluetooth connectivity so it can be controlled by a cellphone.
But what's really cool about the new Mindstorms is that they're a collaboration between Lego's engineers and some of the fans who run the very active Lego community projects built around open-source versions of its software. Lego used one of the fan-designed sensors and asked other fans to help design some of the software used to program the Mindstorms.
Someday business schools will use this as a case study in applying Web 2.0 peer-production techniques to traditional product innovation. In the meantime, you can read all about it in the cover story from next month's Wired, which we've released early as a sneak preview.