Updated information is at the end of this article.
While I was at BrickCon 2019, I was pulled aside by a couple of AFOLs and asked: “What would you think about an app that could scan and identify a part?” My answer was pretty quick – that would be a great app to have and it could be done if there was a developer that was interested.
A smartphone camera could be used in an augmented reality program to match a part’s image with a database – which could be linked to Bricklink. From there, a person could place the part in their inventory or order more. This led to a discussion about how it could be done and uses. It’s an idea that has been in my head for a while, and now someone is taking a step toward that vision.
GETCOO, a tech company based in Italy, launched a Kickstarter drive for a system named PIQABRICK. This is a product that can identify a LEGO part and catalog it for buying. selling, and inventory management. With PIQABRICK, a builder can identify a physical part quickly and easily using the two components of the system.
The PIQABRICK box
PIQABRICK has two components: the PIQABRICK BOX and a web dashboard. The box is a lightbox setup with a USB camera and LEDs mounted on top of a box made by LEGO bricks. The box has a footprint of 16×16 studs and is 12 bricks high, and can be incorporated into a LEGO build (as long as the footprint is maintained). The box is connected to a computer with USB.
The web dashboard controls the camera in the box. Identifying a brick is easy – place a brick in and scan with the camera! When the brick is identified, the dashboard gives links to LEGO marketplaces to buy/sell the brick and to manage inventory. Since the dashboard is web-based, it’s cross-platform, with compatibility on Mac, PC, smartphone or tablet.
All of this is done by computer vision – the camera sends a photo of the brick to a cloud database of parts and does a match. With PIQABRICK, bricks are identified to the part ID and color code. It can also identify minifigures. With its database, PIQABRICK can identify similar bricks by code or color, list sets with the scanned brick, and even list sets that can be built with the parts in a user’s inventory.
To maintain the database and user inventory, users subscribe to the service. With the Kickstarter, users get their first year of their subscription free when they back a set. Afterwards, an annual subscription is 29 Euro (about $33) or 2.40 Euro/month (about $2.70?month) UPDATE: Subscriptions have been removed and replaced with a free access to the web dashboard FOREVER.
The Kickstarter campaign is now open and is a great opportunity for builders and especially brick sellers to sort, maintain and update inventory. As of press time, there are early bird options for the PIQABRICK top and PIQABRICK Box, both in black and white. Retail price is
125 Euro ( around $140) 111 Euro (around $121) for the top and 145 Euro (around $161) 131 Euro (around $146)for the box. The Kickstarter deadline is November 23, 2019 12:01 PM EST, so if you want to support this system, you can get more information and back it here!