Ayah Bdeir

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Ayah Bdeir
Ayah Bdeir in November 2014
Born1982 (age 41–42)
EducationMS Media Arts and Sciences, Media Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Ayah Bdeir (Arabic: آية بدير; born 1982 in Montreal, Quebec) is a Canadian entrepreneur, inventor, and interactive artist of Syrian descent.[1] She is the founder and CEO of littleBits. She is also the co-founder of Daleel Thawra, a directory of protests, initiatives, donations in Lebanon.[2]

Early life[edit]

Born in Canada to a Syrian immigrant family and raised in Beirut. Bdeir credits her parents, her late father Saadi Bdeir, an entrepreneur and mother Randa Bdeir, a banker as her inspiration because they raised her and her sisters to love maths, science, and design and pursue their passions in the field of their choosing.[3][4] Bdeir would take things apart, break them open to see what was inside. She was given chemistry sets, and programming lessons on Commodore 64 when she was 12. Her parents didn't believe in gender differences, championing their girls to be scientists and engineers, and push to be career women.[5] (Bdeir's mother attended university to get her degree at the same time as her daughters were going to school.[6])

Education and career[edit]

Ayah Bdeir in 2010

Bdeir earned a Masters of Science degree from the MIT Media Lab and undergraduate degrees in Computer Engineering and Sociology from the American University of Beirut. In 2008, she was awarded a fellowship at Eyebeam in New York City[7] She has taught graduate classes at NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) and Parsons The New School for Design.[8] In 2010, Bdeir served as a design mentor on the reality TV show, Stars of Science.[9]

In September 2011, Bdeir started littleBits Electronics, a startup with the goal to "put the power of electronics in the hands of everyone, and to break down complex technologies so that anyone can build, prototype, and invent."[10] The company is based in New York with funding from such investors as True Ventures,[11] Foundry Group, and Two Sigma.[12]

In 2012, Bdeir received the TED Fellowship[13] and gave a talk at the TED conference[14] in Long Beach called "Building Blocks That Blink, Beep and Teach."[15]


Bdeir is the founder and CEO of littleBits.[16][17]

littleBits joined the 2016 Disney Accelerator program.[18] It has also partnered with Savvas, one of the leading curriculum companies in the world to co-create curriculum to support their Science and Engineering program.[19]

In 2014, Bdeir and her work with littleBits were included in the 35 Under 35 Coolest Entrepreneurs list by Inc.[20]

In 2018, she and her work with littleBits were included in Inc.'s Top 5 Women to Watch in Robotics list.[21]

In 2019, she was featured in BBC's "100 most influential women" for her contributions to close the gender gap in STEM.[22]

Maker movement, Internet of Things and gender neutrality[edit]

Bdeir was named to Popular Mechanics' 25 Makers Who Are Reinventing the American Dream in 2014[23] and has spoken at TED,[24] SXSW,[25] Solid,[26] and CreativeMornings[27] about the Maker Movement, the importance of democratizing technology, and the Internet of Things.

Bdeir is a proponent of the Open Hardware Movement, an initiative aimed at ensuring that technological knowledge is accessible to everyone,[28] and co-founded the Open Hardware Summit, an annual conference organized by the Open Source Hardware Association.[29] In 2010, Bdeir was awarded a fellowship with Creative Commons for her work in defining Open Hardware and for co-chairing the Open Hardware Summits of 2010 and 2011.[9]

As a fellow at Creative Commons, she led the public competition for the Open Hardware logo—now adopted on millions of circuit boards around the world. Bdeir has published academic papers and coined the term "Electronics As Material," which is the idea of "thinking of electronics as material that can be combined with other traditional ones."[30]

Bdeir is a proponent of Gender Neutrality in toys. Bdeir has said she is proud that 40% of the littleBits user base is girls, four times the average in STEM/STEAM.[31]

Art works[edit]

Prior to littleBits, Bdeir worked as an interactive artist.[32] She has exhibited work at the Peacock Visual Arts gallery (Aberdeen), the New Museum (New York), Ars Electronica (Linz) and the Royal College of Art (London). Installations include:

  • Elusive Electricity (Ejet Ejet)[33]
  • Teta Haniya's Secrets[34]
  • Les Annees Lumiere[35]
  • Arabiia[36]
  • Random Search[37]

Shows and exhibitions[edit]


  • UFA Projection Mapping – Colors of an old Beirut[39]
  • White – Source Companion
  • The New Museum – Renegade Sculpture
  • Beiteddine Festival – Guy Manoukian


  1. ^ Henry, Zoe (9 February 2017). "An Electronics Startup Responded to Trump's Muslim Ban With a Times Square Ad in Arabic". Slate. ISSN 1091-2339. Retrieved 18 March 2024.
  2. ^ "Ayah Bdeir, meilleur espoir féminin". www.lorientlejour.com (in French). 22 September 2020. Retrieved 22 February 2022.
  3. ^ "DANIA BDEIR INTERVIEW". Interlocutor. 23 June 2022. Retrieved 8 December 2023.
  4. ^ https://www.inc.com/zoe-henry/how-littlebits-founder-ayah-bdeir-pushing-back-against-trump-immigration-ban.html
  5. ^ "CNN.com - Transcripts". www.cnn.com. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  6. ^ "Outside the Box Podcast". WalMart. Archived from the original on 17 June 2017. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  7. ^ Eyebeam Press Release. "Eyebeam will hold Open Studios for Artists In Residence and Senior Fellows" Archived 3 February 2011 at the Wayback Machine. 15 May 2009.
  8. ^ "Ayah Bdeir". Global Portal for Women in ICT. Archived from the original on 13 February 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  9. ^ a b "Ayah Bdeir of LittleBits". Media.mit.edu. MIT Media Lab. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  10. ^ McHugh, Molly (18 November 2014). "The home of the future is inside littleBits' Smart Home Kit". News article. The Daily Dot. Retrieved 13 February 2015.
  11. ^ Lunden, Ingrid (18 July 2012). "Toys Grow Up: LittleBits Picks Up $3.65M, PCH Deal To Build Out Its Open-Source Hardware Vision". TechCrunch. TechCrunch. Retrieved 13 February 2015.
  12. ^ "True Ventures and Foundry Group lead $11.1 mln round for LittleBits". Pehub.com. PE Hub. Archived from the original on 16 February 2014. Retrieved 13 February 2015.
  13. ^ blog, TED. "received"
  14. ^ conference, TED. "talk"
  15. ^ "Building blocks that blink, beep and teach". TED. 29 March 2012. Retrieved 13 February 2015.
  16. ^ "Home". littlebits.com.
  17. ^ "Women in tech: Success still hangs on relationships and privilege". Engadget. 16 March 2019. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
  18. ^ "2016 Disney Accelerator Participants Announced - The Walt Disney Company". 11 July 2016.
  19. ^ "Science Programs - Savvas - Elevate Science K-8". www.savvas.com.
  20. ^ Lagorio-Chafkin, Christine (24 June 2014). "LittleBits: On a Mission to Make Electrical Engineering Fun". Inc.com. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  21. ^ Burton, Bonnie (5 June 2018). "Meet the Top 5 Innovative Women to Watch in Robotics". Inc.com. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  22. ^ "BBC 100 Women 2019: Who is on the list this year?". bbc.com. 5 June 2018. Retrieved 22 February 2022.
  23. ^ Raymond, Chris (18 March 2014). "25 Makers Who Are Reinventing The American Dream". Popularmechanics.com. Popular Mechanics. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  24. ^ "Ayah Bdeir: Engineer and artist". TED.com. TED. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  25. ^ "Democratizing the Internet of Things is An Urgency". SXSW. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  26. ^ "The Internet as Material: Empowering the Next Phase of Connected Hardware Innovation". Solidcon.com. O'Reilly. Archived from the original on 7 March 2015. Retrieved 13 February 2015.
  27. ^ "Ayah Bdeir Q+A". Creativemornings.com. CreativeMornings. 12 November 2013. Retrieved 13 February 2015.
  28. ^ Griffith, Erin (13 March 2014). "Ayah Bdeir, CEO of littleBits, on the real reason for the hardware renaissance". Fortune. Fortune. Retrieved 13 February 2015.
  29. ^ "Open Source Hardware Association/About". Oshwa.org. Open Source Hardware Association. 7 April 2012. Retrieved 13 February 2015.
  30. ^ "Ayah Bdeir". Eyeofestival.com. EyeO+. Retrieved 13 February 2015.
  31. ^ The Boston Consulting Group (16 May 2017). "LittleBits founder Ayah Bdeir on the Need for Gender-Neutral STEM toys" – via YouTube.
  32. ^ Ko, Hanae. "Where I Work: Ayah Bdeir". Art Asia Pacific. July 2009. Issue 64.
  33. ^ "Elusive Electricity – ayah bdeir". ayahbdeir.com.
  34. ^ "Teta Haniya's secrets – ayah bdeir". ayahbdeir.com.
  35. ^ "les années lumière – ayah bdeir". ayahbdeir.com.
  36. ^ "arabiia – ayah bdeir". ayahbdeir.com.
  37. ^ "random search – ayah bdeir". ayahbdeir.com.
  38. ^ Kennedy, Randy. "Art Made at the Speed of the Internet: Don't Say 'Geek'; Say 'Collaborator'" . 18 April 2010. New York Times
  39. ^ "UFA Projection Mapping – Colors of an old Beirut – ayah bdeir". ayahbdeir.com.

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