One News reports on the Imagination Station

Posted by on Jan 7, 2015 in Event, Press | 0 comments

We opened New Zealand’s first LEGO play and learning center, the Imagination Station, on January 4th, 2015. One News came down a day later and reported. Here is their clip:

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The 4:30 Show Reported on our LEGO Show

Posted by on Aug 13, 2014 in LEGO, Press | 0 comments

The 4:30 Show reported on our Christchurch Brick Show 2014. Here is the video:

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3D Printing Robot in the news

Posted by on May 2, 2014 in Press | 0 comments

Eduardo and Tim, who have been working on 3D printing an inMoov robot have been interviewed by Radio New Zealand. They did an excellent job at explaining the project.

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“Semi-automatic color analysis for brand logos” study featured on Radio New Zealand

Posted by on Dec 19, 2013 in Press | 0 comments

Adrian Clark and me have developed a software tool that can semi-automatically analyse colour in large sets of graphics. We told Alison Ballance from Radio New Zealand, how the tool, which could help designers choose the best colour for a brand logo, was tested in an analysis of flags of the world.

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BBC reports on Uncanny Valley study

Posted by on Sep 3, 2013 in Press | 0 comments

The BBC is reporting today on our work on the Uncanny Valley. Finally some non-LEGO media coverage.

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Reflection on media response to minifigure study

Posted by on Jun 13, 2013 in LEGO, Press | 2 comments

The study we performed on the emotional expressivity of LEGO Minifigures is currently receiving an enormous attention in the media. Much more than the LEGO Minfigure Catalogs that I am publishing as books. I am being bombarded with requests for interviews and statements. The Norwegian news paper “Morgenbladet” even asked me to confirm that this is not an action from the infamous “Yes Men” or any other artist group alike. I share their disbelief how such a little study could cause such a ripple in the global media landscape. I do not think that it deserves that much attention. Why then has it sparked such an intense consideration?

The study showed, amongst other things, that the number of unique LEGO Minifigure faces has increased dramatically over the years and that the proportion of happy faces is declining. Anger is the second most frequent expression. As my wife put it to me yesterday: “So what, there are some angry faces!”.  I agree, there is nothing wrong with having a variety of faces, including faces that are angry, sad, fearful and surprised. They reflect our normal repertoire of facial expressions.

When reflecting on the type of questions reporters asked me I gathered that there is another phenomena that, mixed with the results of our study, does concern many people. Have the LEGO toys become more aggressive and violent in general? This is not a question of the faces on the Minfigures, but on the sets and the phantasy worlds in which they are embedded. Have a look at set 44001 Pyrox (see Figure 1). This certainly looks like a violent demon, if not the devil himself. The question comes up again and again as to whether such toys have a negative effect on our children.


Figure 1: Set 44001 Pyrox

We do already have a big debate about violent computer games and to my knowledge there is no scientific consent as to what effect it may or may not have on children and young adults. The Mega Blocks company even sells LEGO compatible sets that are based on the violent computer game called Halo.

Surely there is a relationship between the artifacts and ourselves. We shape the tools and toys and they shape us. But it is a complex relationship in which causalities are difficult to establish. Our little LEGO study was never intended to give an answer to this question and it certainly cannot even give a hint. We have only been able to scientifically establish that there are now proportionally less happy faces and more angry faces. But this is the main question that has been asked by the reporters. I feel sorry to have to disappoint the reporters and readers. I am not able to give you any scientific proof that LEGO is good or bad for your children.

But I can give you my non-scientific, personal view. I believe the LEGO company has some great toys that help kids develop and the more generic LEGO bricks you buy, the more freedom you give the kids to develop their own imaginary worlds. It is a misconception that the basic LEGO bricks have gone. You can buy a bucket of basic bricks in every toy store right now. I recommend that you, no matter the age, sit down today on the floor and do play with some LEGO. But do not step on them barefoot!

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