It’s been a crazy year for everyone, so it’s been a perfect time to step back and see what we’ve achieved so far, and to clarify our goals for the future. If you’ve wondered what our plans are for SBrick, then this post is for you.
The story so far
It’s been an incredible journey so far for SBrick, a global adventure that started in Budapest in 2013 with a very different IoT idea and a goal to go to the crowd to ask for its support. We produced SBrick, and then SBrick Plus, two smart bricks designed to remote control the Power Functions family by giving you real control over your incredible creations.
Mostly through word-of-mouth, through social media channels like Youtube, Facebook and Instagram, people all over the world got to know SBrick and SBrick Plus. We’re proud that more than 40,000 people have chosen SBrick to play and learn with.
It’s been exciting to evolve over the last 5+ years, through both the ups and the downs, as the market conditions have changed a great deal since we began.
Now is the right time for us to take stock of where we are and to let everyone know where we are heading at SBrick, what are our goals, and what can you expect from us over the next few years.
What is SBrick today?
SBrick is made up of hardware and software, with SBrick and SBrick Plus on the hardware side and our apps on the software side. The bricks allow you to physically connect to Power Functions motors and lights, and the software lets you control them through any iOS, Android and Windows device.
However, LEGO’s offering is changing, and will likely see the Power Functions motors and lights discontinued as the company moves to its newer lineup of Powered Up, Control+, and Spike Prime. These products have newer connectors, meaning that SBrick and SBrick Plus will no longer work with them, as you won’t be able to connect them physically. So what does that mean for SBrick and SBrick Plus?
The future is software
We’re going to be focusing on our software, the area where we are strongest, and the area we started in before we decided to create SBrick in-house. Until now our SBrick app could control SBrick, and the peripherals attached to them. Our next app will still do that, but it will also be able to control other hubs and motors, without needing to use a physical smart brick.
Our next software release is called SBrick Pro. An app available for iOS, Android and Windows, it’s a quantum leap forward from the current app. It will enable the control of the latest Control+ motors, Powered Up equipment, as well as older LEGO electronics you may have.
But we’re not stopping there.
SBrick Pro will let you control many different products, together!
SBrick Pro will *even* let you control electronics that aren’t LEGO at all; perhaps you have one of the many robots that came to market over the last few years, you know, one of those robots that you used a little and then ran out of things to do with? Chances are, SBrick Pro will be able to control it, and this concept of working with as many things as possible is unique to SBrick.
Our aim is to make SBrick Pro app the go-to remote control interface you use with all your construction toys, models, motors, lights, everything. We expect many users to switch over from the LEGO Control+ app as they look for a solution that suits what they want to do. Users searching for a better solution that’s not locked in to just one family of products will turn to SBrick Pro.
We’ve taken all the best features from SBrick and incorporated it into SBrick Pro. You’ll still be able to design a remote control to suit you as you could do wirh Profile Designer, but you’ll be able to do it all from within the app. Better yet, you’ll also be able to program your remote control as we have introduced a coding layer within our easy-to-use editor. Switch between designing a remote control and add some code to your buttons and sliders, simply by switching between layers in our app; it’s designed to be fluid and intuitive, and it is.
We’re really excited for you to see it.
This app will be powerful enough for hardcore users, simple-to-use for those looking to start playing quickly, and will also have features that will make it really well suited for the classroom. Education has always been something we’ve had our eyes on, and just in the last month we had an interesting development; I’ll have more on this specifically later in this post.
SBrick Pro is a major advance, fits our background as hackers and tinkerers, and continues along the road laid out by SBrick, namely to create a universal remote control system that allows you to control almost everything using almost any smart device.
So when do we expect to release SBrick Pro? Hopefully in time for Christmas, but it’s more likely to be released in mid Q1 2021, as there are other things cooking in the SBrick kitchen.
The future is bright (hardware)
Turning to the hardware side of things, we are not stopping producing SBrick and SBrick Plus. We plan on manufacturing these through 2021 and into 2022, when we will take another look at where we stand.
We know there is a huge untapped group of LEGO builders and players — hundreds of thousands of people — who have lots of those Power Functions lights and motors that LEGO is phasing out and making obsolete. We estimate there are millions of units out there that will be unsupported as soon as their stock dries up. That’s a *lot* of people who have equipment that is perfectly good to use rather than just throwing away.
The solution for them will continue to be SBrick and SBrick Plus, depending on their use case. Combined with our app, those motors and lights are just as useful now as they were when they were bought. Actually, when powered by our app, they are much more useful now than they were then.
We see this as a massive opportunity for SBrick.
But we’re not done with hardware yet. We have been working on something new since January of this year, and we’re about to enter the mass production phase for it — it will be available to buy before November. And what is it?
It’s called SBrick Light, and it’’ll make all your LEGO sets more beautiful.
SBrick Light is a lighting kit designed to work within the world of LEGO, or in home art projects. Whether you want to put the finishing touches on a big Technics model, or perhaps put some life into those huge high street models, or perhaps create colours and flickering effects for your pirate island, SBrick Light will do it all. Perhaps you have a Harry Potter set, or a City Set like the Police Station or Fire House; *all* of them will look amazing with our lighting kit, SBrick Light. It’s size and practicality make it just as suitable for lighting a moving train as for illuminating an entire railway station. We can’t wait to see the things creators come up with using SBrick Light.
So what is SBrick Light? It’s a central unit that connects to strands of RGB LEDs. You can set colours, create light patterns, and also incorporate it into your models and MOCs any way you see fit. Having different colours available will make building exciting displays a breeze.
We see SBrick Light as something that LEGO builders of all ages will truly enjoy and we also think it will hit home with those interested in art projects for the home.
SBrick Light will be released with a simple-to-use app and will work on its own, out of the box. It has the option of being powered by batteries, or for more permanent displays, running off mains electricity when plugged in. The Light will integrate perfectly within the SBrick ecosystem, and can also be controlled by SBrick Pro. For those looking to do more extreme things such as perhaps building a model with SBrick Lights, a Control+ hub and motors, and a couple of Power Functions motors, the only solution is SBrick.
Light makes everything more beautiful, so we’re really excited to bring this to market this year. We expect the response to be overwhelmingly positive and will be sending preview models to many Youtubers in October, so you will be seeing SBrick Light in action, in independent users hands, before Thanksgiving.
We believe SBrick Light will be a market-leader in the lighting category for construction toys, and will be a product with which our resellers will find great success.
Earlier I mentioned that something happened just recently that will make a huge difference to our Education offering. Namely, SBrick was one of 15 companies chosen by an Education Accelerator. There were more than 230 applicants, so we’re proud to have made the grade.
This means that we will have much needed support in pushing SBrick Pro even further and making it a tool that teachers can use with confidence.
I’ll share more once we have met all legal requirements and it’s made official.
We have a firm vision of what we can achieve, and with a better understanding of where SBrick Pro fits into the overall education system in Europe, we will help turn teaching and learning into “child’s play.”
Thank you for sticking with us and helping us get to where we are today. It’s been an exciting journey so far, and it’s far from over! Many thanks from everyone at the SBrick team, and keep SBricking!