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Lego opens up Mindstorms NXT firmware

Iconic toy maker will also give users software, hardware and Bluetooth developer kits.

Lego plans to release as open source the microprocessor firmware of its programmable robot product line, Mindstorms NXT, the company said Monday.

As part of its open-source efforts, the iconic toy company also expects to release software, hardware and Bluetooth developer kits. The firmware code and the developer kits should be available by August when Mindstorms NXT is publicly available.

For months, 114 Mindstorms fans have been taking part in an invite-only developers program. The idea is that they will be able to write books about Mindstorms, as well as create new software and designs for it. But they've kept silent under nondisclosure agreements.

Now that is changing and the developer program participants are free to discuss their projects, and much of the fruit of that work should begin appearing on the Mindstorms Web site soon.

Meanwhile, the software developer kit includes the NXT driver interface specifications and all tools required for building new application programming environments.

Similarly, the hardware developer kit gives users the plans for the NXT 6-wire digital connector system, which can enable them to create third-party sensors that are interoperable with the NXT motors and programmable system.

Finally, the Bluetooth developer kit details the Bluetooth protocol built into the NXT microprocessor. That should enable users to design programs allowing any Bluetooth device to interact with Mindstorms NXT robots, Lego said.