littleBits: A Library of Electronics

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Ayah Bdeir is a woman who is passionate about making hardware accessible to people of all ages and walks of life. She studied computer engineering at the American University of Beirut and went on to earn her Master’s of Science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). When she started to learn about electric circuits in university, she realized many people give up on the subject because they found it too hard to understand. From this point onwards she has been on a mission to make that complex idea accessible to all people, whether you are into engineering or not.

As the fundamentals of all electronics come down to electric circuits, to be able to make them means that one can create countless gadgets. However, to make electric circuits you have to learn how to program, how to wire, and how to solder; but, what happens if you do not know all these things? Can you still create electronics? The answer is “Yes”; with “littleBits” you can start creating immediately without the hindrance of acquiring complex knowledge and skills.

Essentially, Bdeir created a library of electronics that snap together by magnet; she broke down the electric circuit into modular bits, which allows users to put electric circuits together using as many bits as they need in any variation they want. The magnets are placed at each end of the electric units and they are designed so that they only snap together when in the correct position as such, there will never be an issue where pieces are in the wrong position.

There are four categories of electronic bits that are color coded: blue, green, pink, and orange.

Blue: power. It is an essential unit to get started.

Green: output. These comprise of bits that can create light, sound, and motion (for example buzzer, light wire).

Pink: input. These are buttons, switches, and sensors that can interpret their surroundings to make things happen (for example light sensor, motion trigger).

Orange: wire. These bits help extend, as well as branch out the electric circuit, which can also add connectivity (for example wireless transmitter, WiFi connector).

Interested to see how these pieces work? Watch Ayah Bdeir, Founder and CEO of littleBits introduce the idea behind her company:

 

littleBits have many uses. Teachers can use them in the classroom to explain the electric circuit and scientific ideas, while children can play with them and make their own electronic toys, such as a moving car or a hamster wheel. Artists and creative people can also unleash their imagination and create different art installations that are even more enhanced by the addition of littleBits, because it will allow them to add motion, sound, and light to their pieces.

littleBits can also be used at home to make houses smarter; for example, you can create a sensor that detects if you left your refrigerator door open. Have a look at the following video to see how that works:

 

 

The design of littleBits is gender neutral; this is key for Bdeir who wants to encourage all kids to have fun and explore the endless possibilities that can be achieved. A lot of thought goes into the design of littleBits; they are made in such a way as to make them approachable and inviting for people to use.

The whole idea of littleBits is that it makes learning about electric circuits easy and accessible; it also encourages people to invent and create anything they want. With a kit from littleBits, you can start inventing right in the middle of your living room!


References
littlebits.cc
techcrunch.com
fortune.com
www.fastcompany.com
 

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