A friend sent me a link to the reddit post of my Brixo bricks, which blew my mind. Seems like there were a lot of questions, so with the help of a friend (since I'm new to reddit) I thought I'd hang out here a bit and answer any questions you have and talk shop.

A few things: -Yes, it's real, and totally works. And yes, it's a wireless connection based on proximity and light sensors as well as now being BLE enabled to connect with smartphones.

-We're just some tinkerers, and without any investment. So we've decided to launch on Kickstarter to raise money to manufacture Brixo at the lowest possible price to make them available to as many people as possible (while also paying ourselves for our time of course).

-We'll be launching a campaign in about 3 weeks, so if you'd like to be notified, just sign up on our site

Who am I? My name's Boaz Almog and I love science. You may have seen my TED talk a few years ago about quantum levitation. Brixo has been my passion project for the past few years, along with a small team of amazing people. I'm here to answer any questions on Brixo, quantum levitation, favorite Star Wars, pretty much anything.

Edit: Sorry everybody, was pulled away for a bit, but I'm here now! Answering questions with some help.

Not sure how to verify, but just updated our social media with this: https://www.facebook.com/brixotoys/ https://twitter.com/brixotoys

Had to go... Thanks so much guys it was a lot of fun. If you have more questions email me at [email protected]

Comments: 475 • Responses: 73  • Date: 

dummystupid226 karma

It looks like your block rely heavily on the Lego design and function.

How do you intend to work with Lego and the patents they hold regarding the design and function of Lego blocks? Are you looking into a partnership with the company or are you looking to pay them for a license?

denzil_holles371 karma

Those patents are expired. Manufacturing good lego parts is difficult.

jjremy165 karma

Yup. Lego has crazy low tolerances for their materials and pieces.

aldesuda129 karma

Which is necessary since (a) every brick made must fit every other brick made and (b) you don't want a noticeable skew after you stack 30, 40 bricks on top of one another.

All_Tan_Everything171 karma

And the more amazing part is that every brick made today fits every brick made 30 years ago

BrixoBoaz14 karma

Damn right.

feni4531 karma

Unlike sloppy megablocks builds that lets all kinds of defects through. That's why the price range is so vast.

BenFett4 karma

Megablocks quality has increased exponentially in the past few years. I'm actually seriously impressed by their new quality.

BrixoBoaz19 karma

My thought exactly, but.. still far away from Lego. Lego bricks always have the same feeling and same building experience (not too hard/weak). We will work hard to achieve similar experience. Lucky for us the chrome coating upgrades the way the bricks feel in your hands and the building is more smooth.

BrixoBoaz29 karma

You're right. Fortunately for us we not making strictly plastic bricks - the chrome coating makes a completely different building experience (I might add more forgiving in terms of plastic feel). In any case, we invest heavily on getting a perfect building experience (we know how Lego competitors usually fails and feel cheap).

BrixoBoaz113 karma

Lego design - yes for compatibility. Fortunately, their patent expired so not need for any licensing. We would love to combine forces with LEGO (of course).

thaway31415626 karma

So... do you think they'll buy you out? They really should.

BrixoBoaz87 karma

We really love and appreciate Lego.

pmYourFears5 karma

I don't suppose any of your designs are unique enough to be patented?

BrixoBoaz22 karma

They are. Well not the designs (that's a different patent) but the system of building blocks with its unique characteristics.

The_karma_that_could186 karma

How high is the voltage, and would it shock you to put your fingers in between 2 connection blocks?

BrixoBoaz378 karma

9V, like a regular battery. And nope, completely harmless :) You can even lick it, if you're into that

skymallow125 karma

9V will sting a little if you lick across the terminals, as I've learned the hard way in Uni.

renosis2416 karma

Has education slipped this far? I was licking 9v batteries in daycare. It wasn't a very good daycare.

skymallow17 karma

We only had AAs back then, hard to get across the terminals that way.

neregekaj15 karma

Just stick the whole battery in your mouth with the terminals on your cheeks. Fool proof.

PoorExcuseForAHuman7 karma

Solid plan...

BrixoBoaz17 karma

More like - Darwin at its best ;-)

madsci18 karma

Can you give us some more technical details? How is the current bridging the gaps between the pieces on the base plate? How does it avoid shorting out when you place those last pieces?

BrixoBoaz63 karma

Connector pieces have two elastic arms (chrome coated of course) on both long sides that protrude towards the next brick. When two bricks are placed together the spring arm are pressed and electric contact is made. At the same time, the bricks are narrower than regular lego bricks so there is no contact between nearby bricks (its actually narrower than needed to be clearly seen and understood by the user). In addition to all that we have short circuit protection embedded into the battery brick. It will constantly limit the current, beep if short circuit and eventually cut the power temporarily if needed. Because, whatever can go wrong (or done wrong) will go wrong. We don't trust the user to be cautious.

dslybrowse160 karma

How does it feel to have something you made get completely discredited as "fake" at first? :p That other thread was hilarious with everyone trying to play /r/iamverysmart detective.

BrixoBoaz148 karma

Just gives me more motivation to push it further.

JetpackPotato111 karma

What is your favorite type of pizza?

BrixoBoaz433 karma


Narissis67 karma

I know Lego stopped making chromed bricks because the thickness of the chrome coating necessitated a second set of slightly smaller moulds to maintain clutch power, and this combined with the cost of using a third-party chroming company made them very expensive.

How does the clutch power of Brixo compare to Lego, and how do you keep it consistent?

BrixoBoaz65 karma

As you rightfully stated we need smaller molds to compensate for the chrome coating. The clutch power can be adjusted and after many trials (and errors!) we found the perfect coating thickness that made it feel smooth and firm at the same time. Its much smoother than Lego but feels strong enough. Consistency is about controlling the thickness of coating. We use electroplating which is a well controlled and repeatable process.

Dakar-A19 karma

Follow up- might you consider making sets without the electronic brick for AFOLs who would want chromed bricks?

BrixoBoaz35 karma

Sure. Most of the time my kids love Brixo blocks just for their shine.

danw65051 karma

As a future teacher, these things are have insane potential in my mind.. not enough kids have any interest in science, but most kids I meet enjoy Legos, at least a little bit. Now, I don't remember much from middle school electricity class, but if we can use Legos to start introducing things like circuits and switches, that's something a child can pick up as early as age 4 and take with them throughout their school years and hopefully beyond. By the time I was introduced to electric circuits, I was like 15 and the whole concept seemed too technical for me. I'd have to go read through books, and buy all the tools, and learn everything from scratch. This was at a time when my priority was to get out of school and play World of Warcraft. I am super excited at the prospect of a child's toy that introduces electricity in a safe way.

Will these be affordable for parents and early childhood educators? Are they easily breakable, or will they hold up to a 3-4 year old? Are they dangerous if, say, placed in a mouth? Also, are they something that a person with no electricity knowledge can purchase and use effectively?

BrixoBoaz37 karma

Affordable - yes. Kickstarter prices starting at $15, though will be around $35 for the normal package. Around $50 later on in retail. Breakable - No. Like LEGO bricks with highly durable chrome coating (imaging your chrome coated kitchen tap for durability) 3-4 age - not sure. Because of the small pieces. More like 6+. Electricity is not an issue - like touching a regular 9V battery.

danw65013 karma

Awesome! Yea 3-4 isn't even recommended for regular Legos now that I think about it. These seem so awesome.. please send some back in time to me as a child, thanks.

BrixoBoaz30 karma

Never too late..

JosephsMythTheProfit48 karma

That quantum levitation video is the coolest thing I've ever seen. How long do you think it will be until that technology is used for transportation?

BrixoBoaz42 karma

Thanks :-) Hopefully 10-15 we'll see some applications.

neregekaj16 karma

Weeks, months, years?

neregekaj38 karma

Maybe 20.

BrixoBoaz53 karma

Years. 😢

o0i81u8120o45 karma

Why did the brick light up without any connection in your hand?

migvazquez9 karma

Not OP, but I'm pretty sure his hand had a small amount of charge built up from handling the circuitry. LED lights will do this with a small static charge as well

BrixoBoaz81 karma

Nope. The LED did not light before I connected it to the circuit. Its just the actual LEDs you are seeing (two yellowish LEDs).

TryAnotherUsername1317 karma

What? No. Static charge can reach several kV and would probably destroy an unprotected LED. The ESD protection would quickly (somewhere in the μs range) drop the voltage and what’s left would never be enough to power even a weak LED for more than a ms.

BrixoBoaz29 karma

You're right. We have resistors inside the LED to protect against power surges.

Robot_Spider44 karma

You did a TED about quantum levitation, and develop Lego concept/prototype designs in your spare time? My question: Are you hiring? :D Very cool stuff. Really enjoyed your TED.

BrixoBoaz50 karma

Thanks. Not hiring.. recruiting.. ;-)

Gabyx7629 karma

What level of complexity do you think is possible with your bricks ? Is it comparable to Minecraft's redstone system ?

Btw that's a really cool project for kids who want to learn about science !

BrixoBoaz33 karma

Thanks, that was the initial motivation. Complexity is almost infinite and in several levels - Mechanically - you could build 3D structures having multiple circuit branches (parallel & in-series). Electronically - combine electric components like transistors, capacitors for teaching electronics.

crowthebird27 karma

how much will they cost?

BrixoBoaz49 karma

Starting at $15 on Kickstarter, though will be around $35 for the normal package. Around $50 later on in retail.

oneAngrySonOfaBitch24 karma

Pb free ?

BrixoBoaz28 karma

Of course.

crowthebird5 karma

how much in a package?

BrixoBoaz36 karma

Starter kit will have 36 blocks, Standard kit - 60 & Makers - 106.

mannyrmz12322 karma

What is the craziest thing you have ever built/tested with Brixo?

BrixoBoaz51 karma

The most complex was the crane - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0F71Dpoj20 The most bizarre were the models we build for the KS campaign - Minecraft dog with rotating head and a rotating arrow head.

ActivatedBag4220 karma

How soon do you think you will be able to sell these on a large scale?

Do you think you'll ever make a deal with LEGO or something similar so that they can sell your bricks?

BrixoBoaz28 karma

Hopefully real soon! We're planning on launching a Kickstarter campaign in a few weeks so we can manufacture and sell them on a REALLY large scale. As for Lego, that could be cool but we don't really see it.

pmYourFears11 karma

We're planning on launching a Kickstarter campaign in a few weeks so we can manufacture and sell them on a REALLY large scale.

That's not really a plan though.

Pretending you had the money already, do you know that Brixo can be manufactured on a large scale and whether you can do so in a cost effective way that stays close enough to the same tolerances that Lego have?

BrixoBoaz42 karma

We definitely do. We already closed deals with manufacturers and had several prototypes to test tolerances and quality of coating.

ActivatedBag428 karma

Awesome man! This has sooo much potential in engineering and entertainment!

BrixoBoaz12 karma


cartoon_gun17 karma

Can you explain how they work in layman's terms? Like how are the connections made or how is the circuit created without a short?

edit: what do you mean by proximity? is that a few cm or mm distance? does it need to have the silver "circuit" blocks or are those just for show?

BrixoBoaz28 karma

The regular (chrome) bricks (4x1) act as conductors only. They are "regular" plastic bricks coated completely with chrome. Each have two small elastic arms that stick from the sides and touch adjacent bricks. The bricks are also a bit thinner to avoid short circuiting between side by side bricks. We have several switch bricks that act as regular switches - open / close the circuit. Proximity is one of them. It closes the circuit when a magnet is nearby (few cm, depending on the magnet). We will supply a magnet brick together with the Proximity switch.

madsci6 karma

Forget layman's terms, we've got a couple of skeptical electrical engineers here who'd like to see some details. Are you suggesting that there's inductive coupling between all of the adjacent bricks? Wouldn't that be very lossy and limit the number of usable orientations?

BrixoBoaz25 karma

Nope. Definitely not inductive coupling. The reason people are coating with chrome is because it is a noble metal - no oxidation layer, which keeps the contact Ohmic and excellent.

WootWizard11 karma

Why isn't OP answering any questions?

BrixoBoaz45 karma

Sorry, had a family thing, didin't realize how quick you guys are, I'm here now!

newvictim16 karma

Reddit expects AMAs to have people man them like they are actually chatting to the person. Then the AMA OP leaves after an hour or more. INSTANT GRATIFICATION!

BrixoBoaz22 karma

Just figuring out how all this works with some help... with that said... INSTANT GRATIFICATION! WOOHOO!

cartoon_gun-6 karma


Girthworthy8 karma

OR!!! maybe he just got busy. Not everybody is a corporate shill looking to cash in on free publicity dude.

BrixoBoaz8 karma

Thanks Girtworthy : )

BustedSanta9 karma

Favourite Star Wars? ;D

BrixoBoaz19 karma

Return of the Jedi, favorite character is Yoda

51314a36596e427a656b9 karma

Did anyone ask about your favorite character?

Polyducks5 karma

Catty, you are!

BrixoBoaz14 karma

Ask me why... Hint (Quantum Locking)

lc_barcode3 karma

Why is Yoda your favorite character?

BrixoBoaz10 karma

You must unlearn what you have learned.. Do or do not there is no try. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQ4yd2W50No


NomNomMeatballBanned8 karma

What'll the price be like? I imagine if its cheap enough it can be used as a tool to get children into electronics if it's safe enough.

BrixoBoaz15 karma

We're going to launch a Kickstarter in a bit where it's going to start with very small packages at $15, normal packages at $35. Retail will be about $50

Adjwater7 karma

what was the hardest part of the process behind Brixo, from technology to legal issues?

BrixoBoaz19 karma

I believe the hardest part is still ahead - marketing and selling. But so far the most difficult challenge was the smart switches - Brixo includes light/sound/proximity bricks which are smart switches. They connect/disconnect the circuit they are connected to. The major challenge was finding a way to disconnect the switch without killing its power supply (other wise it will not wake up when needed). Problem was solved after much work and out of the box thinking :-)

HNIRobertPaulson6 karma

Lego is known for making high quality toys while the rest of the toy industry seems to be racing to the bottom. Will these Brixo blocks have the same kind of quality and durability? It seems like the connection "nubs" or whatever they are might wear out over time. Also, chrome can wear or flake off. What are you doing to address these issues and what kind of wear and tear have you tested for?

BrixoBoaz16 karma

You're right. We certainly look up to Lego and their product quality. The bricks are make of ABS plastic (like Lego) hard coated with chrome. The coating is highly durable (have you see any peeling in your shower head? or tap?). Initial testings showed that the coating holds for hundreds of times. We will continue to do extensive testing once we complete our basic manufacturing capabilities (after the KS campaign).

BrixoBoaz6 karma

Hey everyone, I had a great time (my fingers are on fire 🔥 in spite of the slow start) and I gotta go soon. If you have more questions email me at [email protected]

slashy423 karma

How will you be handling quality control? Many Lego like blocks suck. Will yours be better? I'm concerned electrical connections will be hard to maintain.

BrixoBoaz11 karma

Yes, we plan on being as good as Lego. The chrome coating differentiate our product and gives it a completely different feel and a very unique and satisfying one. Not so much. We do not need a very good electric contact (just good). Even the slightest touch between two adjacent bricks will give an ohmic contact (~1Ohm) which is enough to make Brixo work well. Most of the times the contact are perfect.

Dedale3 karma

Where are you based?

BrixoBoaz8 karma

Israel & US.

lyspr3 karma

Where OP at, tho?

BrixoBoaz7 karma

Right here :)

The_Paul_Alves2 karma

Have you had any trouble with the Lego people as far as patents go?

BrixoBoaz10 karma

Don't expect to. Lego's patents on the basic shape expired several years ago.

Count_Sack_McGee2 karma

Can't imagine a child or many adults for that matter that wouldn't find this extremely entertaining. Do you have plans to market and sell these? they are very similar to Lego's, is there any concerns about lawsuits?

BrixoBoaz9 karma

We do. have plans to sell these kits at every retail and toy store. I am hopeful that our legal people did their job well. Lego's basic patents expired several years ago. Hopefully, we will live alongside Lego to give a more complete experience and not fight them.

whiskyart1 karma

What are some practical applications of quantum levitation / locking besides the awe-inspiring demonstrations at science fairs?

BrixoBoaz1 karma

Sorted by seriousness: 1. Transportation (people, cargo) 2. Precise control & manipulation (satellites in space, tractor beam..) 3. Display show (culinary, advertising, etc..)

drooln1 karma

Could you tell me more about its possible culinary applications?

Pegthaniel1 karma

What kind of music do you like to listen to?

BrixoBoaz7 karma

Alternative, singer-songwriter folk, prog rock & dire-straits.

Riddla261 karma

Reddit themed kit with enough blocks to make 1 horse sized robo duck, or 100 duck sized robo horses, please? I only mention robo so I can stick those cool LED blocks in for their eyes.

BrixoBoaz1 karma

mmm.... No. Yes.

valourunbound1 karma

So you mention BLE. Will the chip (there's gotta be a chip somewhere) be housed with the battery? I assume that large black block (that probably houses a 9v) also holds any required chips.

Can the block be disassembled? How long does your power last? Does it need to be recharged or replaced?

BrixoBoaz2 karma

BLE chip will sit inside the battery brick (9V). The block cannot be disassembled (just opened for battery replacement). Power lasts according to usage. Regular usage will consume no more than 100mAmp and white regular Alkaline 9V battery (>500mAh) it will last about 5 hours.

rosenbergstein1 karma

What microcontrollers are you currently using? Which ones have you experimented with in the past?

BrixoBoaz3 karma

Smart switches - PIC16F1823-I/ML Battery - PIC16F1827-I/MV BLE - considering using HF-BL100-CU (current prototype)

naisanza1 karma

Will you be making these for those mini Lego pieces?

BrixoBoaz1 karma

You mean flat pieces? Not in the first generation. We still haven't been able to find a proper solution to electrically connect adjacent flat pieces. But we are working on that.

brklynmark0 karma

Do you plan on answering any questions, or just plugging your product?

cartoon_gun0 karma

Submitted an hour ago but no responses. He also submitted this "AMA" to /r/geek yesterday which has been removed.

edit: I stand corrected, OP is here now

BrixoBoaz9 karma

New to this, my bad!

cartoon_gun6 karma

Welcome, Reddit is just populated by a lot of skeptics

BrixoBoaz6 karma

Thanks, and nothing wrong with that : )

TKDbeast0 karma


BrixoBoaz1 karma

you got it.

Efthymios0 karma

I think these bricks are pretty cool. Are you pitching them to lego?

BrixoBoaz1 karma


mannyrmz1230 karma

What do other fellow startup people think of Brixo?

This is like something they should be playing with when they're tired of developing their own startups.

BrixoBoaz2 karma

That's a great startup :-)

toobulkeh-1 karma

Besides investment, what do you need help with? Building a community of designs would be really cool.

How are you going to protect yourself from the Lego overlord?

Also, proof?

BrixoBoaz1 karma

I think the major thing we need is a large and responsive community. One of the great things about Lego is its worldwide fans (AFOL, etc.). We are already working on building a platform for designs and ideas that will use Brixo. That is also the reason we decided on going first to Kickstarter (and not seek investment and straight to retail). By having a dedicated fan base we can build strong and health brand & product.

Meltingteeth-1 karma

Do you have any fear that you're totally going to get sued by Lego? I mean, they're definitely on reddit. They bitch every time you say Legos. As far as I can tell they're just metal legos, which seems far less fun than just using a wire...

BrixoBoaz2 karma

Legos. Legos. Legos. Sorry, couldn't help it. You shouldn't say Brixos as well. Maybe less fun (arguable..) but much more educational and less intrusive to the building.

Nevrmorr-1 karma

Could you offer some proof besides a link to your website?

BrixoBoaz2 karma

Check our FB page (https://www.facebook.com/brixotoys/) as well as our twitter account (@brixotoys) and finally my personal youtube page (https://www.youtube.com/user/boazal).

Korberos-3 karma

Why should I buy your product if you don't even answer questions in your own AMA? It's been two hours, OP...

BrixoBoaz1 karma

Got to it finally...