Great news and great approach - Lego opens up its Mindstorms NXT toolkit, and their board of 'Expert Advisors' will be able to share their experiences with the community. It must be an exciting day for the NXT team - if I were to draw a parallel to patterns & practices process, it is the day when you let your advisors tell your future users what they really think - no PR tweaks, fidgety marketing folks or controlled messages in the way.
It is excting to see the approach of involving users throughout the product development be used in a product I care about. Here's the link:
To quote (highlights mine):
“Most often, innovation comes from the core community of users. Our ongoing commitment to enabling our fan base to personalize and enhance their MINDSTORMS experience has reached a new level with our decision to release the firmware for the NXT brick as open source,” said Søren Lund, director of LEGO MINDSTORMS. “When we launched the legacy MINDSTORMS platform in 1998, the community found ways to do these things on their own, and we were faced with the question of whether to allow it, which we decided to embrace and encourage. Now, given the strong user base and versatility and power of the NXT platform, the right to hack is a ‘no brainer.’ We’re excited to see how our open approach will push new boundaries of robotic development and are eager for all enthusiasts to share their creations with the community.” Today also marks the first time that the original 14 MINDSTORMS Users Panel members and 100 recruited members of the MINDSTORMS Developer Program, an exclusive group of enthusiasts charged with helping guide the product development process, can publicly share their initial experiences and experiments with the NXT platform. During a four-month process, participants have had access to a secure Web forum where they can communicate with one another, learn more about the project, debate issues, create solutions and support the ultimate launch of LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT in August. "