If this blog post seems a little short today, it’s because I’m busy preparing my lawsuit against Google and Lego. It seems the two companies have poached an idea I shared nearly a year ago, wherein I proposed a 3-D tool that could allow people to construct their own virtual Lego creations and then share them online.
Lo and behold, Google has launched Build With Chrome, a web browser-based tool that does exactly that. Excuse me, I think that’s my lawyer calling…
I’m only kidding, of course. As a Lego aficionado, I’m actually overjoyed that Google has done this – and I’m amazed at how well it works. In a blog post, product marketing manager Adrian Soghoian explains that the tool uses WebGL, a 3-D graphics technology, to create a smooth-flowing interface. I’ll be damned if it doesn’t look a lot like professional CAD software.
The picture above is a simple house I constructed in about 10 minutes. Check out the video below for a glimpse of how Build With Chrome works:
So far, the tool’s block selection is pretty limited and I have encountered bugs with viewing and sharing. Every time I try to look at my creations, for example, I get a big red screen of death.
Still, this is one of those things that sparks the imagination. The bugs will inevitably be fixed and additional blocks (Lego calls them “elements”) will presumably be added. Hopefully, Google will also introduce a function that lets viewers deconstruct other people’s creations so that they can ultimately be re-engineered in real life.
The value if this happened for Lego and for fans of the toys, as I wrote in my post months ago, would be huge in that a sharing community would arise. Those sets that you (or your child) have would be incredibly more valuable if you had access to a whole host of alternative build plans for them.
The other intriguing thing about Build With Chrome is how it’s linked to geography. Users can pick a plot of land anywhere in the world and build there, with the logical progression being a virtual Earth filled with Lego constructs. If you’ve ever dreamed about escaping into a Lego world, this looks to be the very beginnings of that fantasy becoming a reality.