What are littleBits and How Do They Work?

By Vince Matthews

littleBits™ is an electronic prototyping platform for kids (and kids at heart) who want to learn more about electronics…or invent a gadget that feeds the family cat.

Cat-Feeder
With this littleBits™ project, the family cat can tell you when it needs to be fed. You can even connect littleBits™ to a smartphone, so you don’t even have to leave the couch to do it.

Think of littleBits™ as electronic building blocks. Each component does something different and can easily be connected to another with a magnetic snap.

You can build almost any kind of electronic gadget with littleBits™, and people do…like a flute that blows bubbles or a device that lets the family bunny email mom when Mr. Floppy is out of kale. But littleBits™ isn’t just for pet feeders. Other DIY littleBits™ projects include an electronic door opener, a robotic arm and even a music synthesizer.

In fact, there are 10 Starter Kits that can kick off a project, like a Smart Home kit (that can make any object into an Internet-connected device), an Arduino Coding Kit (for programming and electric engineering with Arduino).

How Do littleBits™ Work?
Each littleBits™ module is an electronic circuit or switch, and it has its own unique function. There are more than 60 Bits™ modules.

littleBits-Pieces-Pack
With more than 60 Bits™ and expansion packs that include wireless, touch and synth modules, the possibilities are almost endless.

The modules snap together using magnets and are connected in a sequence, to make a circuit. For people without electronics or programming skills (or who don’t have experience soldering electronics to a breadboad), littleBits™ is a perfect way to start learning how electronics work.

littleBits™ projects can bring families and classrooms together in a fun and creative way. For kids who want to get a hands-on experience with littleBits™, DMA offers its Adventures in Engineering & Rocket Science camp.

Who Created littleBits™?
Developed by Ayah Bdeir while working on her Master’s degree in Computing Culture at MIT, Bdeir created the first littleBits™ prototypes on her own in 2011.

Ayah-Bdeir-littleBits-CEO-TED-Talk
CEO and founder of littleBits™ Ayah Bdeir demonstrates her product during a TED talk.

Bdeir has a long list of honors, including a fellowship and senior fellowship at the Eyebeam Art & Technology Center in New York (where she created the first littleBits™ prototype). She is a Creative Commons fellow and a TED fellow. In 2014, Bdeir also made MIT’s “35 Innovators Under 35″ list.

It’s great to see women like Ayah Bdeir in technology. If you’re a female and want to follow in Ayah Bdeir’s footsteps, Digital Media Academy’s tech camps for girls are a great place to start.