LEGO has always been an innovative and forward-thinking brand. Remember that letter to parents the company included in their 1970s packaging, reminding the adults to encourage creative play in their children no matter their gender or preferred building ideas (hey, boys can play house too!)? Now the classic toy bricks are being put to use in tech labs, aiding researchers in their quest to develop flexible electronics.

While flexible electronics are constantly being heralded as the next frontier of the technology sphere, they’re proving to be a much more vexing invention for developers than was originally imagined. Components like batteries, chips and memory cards are inherently structured; bending them in their current state is very literally impossible without ruining them.


So scientists and and technicians must carry on with their research, constantly testing new ways to make these digital parts pliant. In a completely unexpected but totally cool twist of engineering ingenuity, researchers have begun to use LEGOs as tools for conducting experiments on flexible technology in their labs.

Richard Moser, the lead author of a soon-to-be-published Advanced Science study on how exactly researchers are using LEGOs for technological advancement, says that “toy bricks are simply perfect for prototyping, combining cost-effective machinery design with easy and intuitive handling and accuracy comparable to commercial testing devices.” Researchers are able to play with and test the tensile abilities of the blocks easily and cheaply, without fear of damaging expensive equipment or having to learn a new product.

Flexible printed electric circuit

From encouraging creative play in children to enhancing technological advancements in laboratories, LEGO has the mind-opening inspiration game on lock, and we’re so impressed. So once you finally get that iPhone that you can bend into your tiny clutch, you’ll know who to (at least partially!) thank.

Did you play with LEGOs as a kid? Tell us your favorite things to build on Twitter at BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)