littleBits

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littleBits
Founded September 2011
Founder Ayah Bdeir
Headquarters New York, New York
Website littlebits.cc

littleBits is a New York City-based startup that makes an open source library of modular electronics (open-source electronics), which snap together with small magnets for prototyping and learning.[1][2] The company’s goal is to democratize hardware the way software and printing have been democratized.[3] The littleBits mission is 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."[4] littleBits units are available in more than 70 countries and used in more than 2,000 schools.[5] The company was named to CNN’s 10 Startups to Watch for 2013.[6]

History and funding[edit]

littleBits began as a small project in 2008 that Ayah Bdeir, the company’s founder and CEO, created for a group of New York designers.[7] She launched littleBits in September 2011.[8] In June 2015, littleBits raised $44.2 million in Series B funding led by DFJ Growth.[9] In November 2013, littleBits received $11.1 million in funding led by True Ventures and Foundry Group, with participation from Two Sigma Ventures, Vegas Tech Fund, and Khosla Ventures, among others.[10]

Products[edit]

The LittleBits synth kit
A system assembled using littleBits modules

In August 2013, the company released the Base, Premium and Deluxe Kits, the first kits to feature the current bits and modules. The goal is to make getting started with littleBits easier and containing the most important modules than other kits.

Girl playing with littleBits.

In July 2014, littleBits introduced cloudBit, a WiFi-enabled module that lets builders add Internet connectivity to their designs.[11] The goal is to give "the average person an easy and open way to contribute to the Internet of Things"[11] using an open-source platform comparable to Linux or Android[12] to build such things as a remote control for coffee makers, heating/cooling systems, or other appliances.[13] In November 2014, the company released the Smart Home Kit, designed to let builders "hack together versions of familiar smart-home concepts—connected coffee pots and presence-aware lamps—or create solutions of their own devising."[14] Using the modules, builders could test smart home gadgets of their own designs to "feel out this new territory for themselves" instead of "taking some company’s word on what your smart home should be."[14]

Uses and partnerships[edit]

LittleBits consists of small circuit boards with specific functions built to snap together with magnets[15] without soldering, wiring, or programming. Each bit has its own specific function, such as light, sound, sensors, or buttons.[2] There are "trillions of billions of combinations" possible in the littleBits open source library.[5] NASA has collaborated with littleBits to design projects for a littleBits ‘Space Kit.’[16] Projects include building a model Mars Rover and the wireless transmission of music to a model of the International Space Station.’[16] In October 2014, the Space Kit won a Fast Company "Innovation by Design" award.[17] In 2013, littleBits partnered with the Museum of Modern Art Stores in New York to build two window displays, which included a giant ferris wheel "propelled by a miniature cyclist" and a "mad scientist controlling a nearly life-sized puppet."[18] Also in 2013, littleBits collaborated with KORG to create the Synth Kit, allowing users to build a DIY synthesizer or create musical instruments.[19]

Marketplace and retail store[edit]

In September 2014, littleBits announced bitLab, a marketplace for products built using littleBits kits and modules.[20] The "app store for hardware" is the "first marketplace for user-generated hardware" (according to Bdeir)[21] and has the potential to become "the most extensive platform for hardware creation and innovation available."[22] In July 2015, littlebits opened a retail store in Soho, Manhattan. The store has an innovative retail model that allows users to either use the littlebits product for free in-store ("Inventions to Stay"), or to build something, pay for the components, and take it away ("Inventions to Go").[23][24]

Role in Maker movement[edit]

The first launch of littleBits was at Makerfaire 2009. littleBits won Editor’s Choice awards in 2009 and 2011 from MAKE magazine.[25] The company has organized a series of hackathons and workshops to encourage active participation in science and technology.[5] CEO Bdeir was named to Popular Mechanics’ 25 Makers Who Are Reinventing the American Dream in 2014,[26] Inc.’s 35 Under 35 Coolest Entrepreneurs,[3] and Fast Company’s Most Creative People of 2013.[27]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Loizos, Connie. "LittleBits Raises Big $44.2 Million Round". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2017-04-16. 
  2. ^ a b "What is littleBits?". littlebits.cc. littleBits. Retrieved 20 February 2015. 
  3. ^ a b Lagorio-Chafkin, Christine (24 June 2014). "LittleBits: On a Mission to Make Electrical Engineering Fun". Inc.com. Inc.com. Retrieved 20 February 2015. 
  4. ^ McHugh, Molly (18 November 2014). "The home of the future is inside littleBits' Smart Home Kit". The Daily Dot. The Daily Dot. Retrieved 20 February 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c Tsotsis, Alexia (24 April 2014). "littleBits And NASA Bring Space Down To Earth With New 'Space Kit'". TechCrunch. TechCrunch. Retrieved 20 February 2015. 
  6. ^ "The CNN 10 Startups". CNN. CNN. Retrieved 20 February 2015. 
  7. ^ Nguyen, Nicole. "Why We Love LittleBit's Rock Star Founder". Pop Sugar. Pop Sugar. Retrieved 20 February 2015. 
  8. ^ Kolodny, Lora (18 July 1830). "Helping People Play With Electricity, LittleBits Closes $3.65M Series A". WSJ.D Venture Capital Dispatch. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 20 February 2015. 
  9. ^ Loizos, Connie (25 June 2015). "LittleBits Raises Big $44.2 Million Round". TechCrunch. TechCrunch. 
  10. ^ Lunden, Ingrid (20 November 2013). "LittleBits Connects With $11.1M To Transform Its Electronics Kit Business Into A Hardware Platform". TechCrunch. TechCrunch. Retrieved 20 February 2015. 
  11. ^ a b Buckley, Sean (23 July 2014). "LittleBits' latest module lets you connect your creations to the internet". Engadget. Engadget. Retrieved 20 February 2015. 
  12. ^ Estes, Adam Clark (23 July 2014). "LittleBits Now Lets You Build Your Own DIY Smart Home". Gizmodo. Gizmodo. Retrieved 20 February 2015. 
  13. ^ Senese, Mark (23 July 2014). "LittleBits New CloudBit Module Simplifies Internet-Controlled Projects". Makezine. Makezine. Retrieved 20 February 2015. 
  14. ^ a b Vanhemert, Kyle (18 November 2014). "LittleBits' New Kit Lets You Create Your Own Smart-Home Gizmos". Wired. Wired. Retrieved 20 February 2015. 
  15. ^ Papadopoulos, Pantelis M.; Burger, Roland; Faria, Ana (2016-12-19). Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Education. Emerald Group Publishing. ISBN 9781786350671. 
  16. ^ a b Wilson, Richard (19 May 2014). "NASA success for littleBits platform". Electronics Weekly. Electronics Weekly. Retrieved 20 February 2015. 
  17. ^ "Design Is Changing How We Innovate". Fast Company. Fast Company. Retrieved 20 February 2015. 
  18. ^ Bautista, Camille (9 April 2013). "LittleBits Brings Big Installations to the Museum of Modern Art". Mashable. Mashable. Retrieved 20 February 2015. 
  19. ^ Aguilar, Mario (8 November 2013). "LittleBits Makes Building a Modular Synth as Easy as Lego Time". Gizmodo. Gizmodo. Retrieved 26 May 2015. 
  20. ^ Greenfield, Rebecca (16 September 2014). "With BitLab, LittleBits Wants to Become the App Store for Hardware". Fast Company. Fast Company. Retrieved 20 February 2015. 
  21. ^ Bercovici, Jeff (16 September 2014). "LittleBits Launches An App Store For Hardware". Forbes. Forbes. Retrieved 20 February 2015. 
  22. ^ Stinson, Liz (16 September 2014). "LittleBits Asks Users to Invent Its Next Product for a 10 Percent Cut". Wired. Wired. Retrieved 20 February 2015. 
  23. ^ Dale, Brady. "Invent Stuff and Leave It for Others at New Soho LittleBits Store". The Observer. Retrieved 11 September 2015. 
  24. ^ Lawson, Sarah. "How LittleBits Went From Educational Tool To High-End Retail". Fastcompany.com. Fast Company. Retrieved 11 September 2015. 
  25. ^ "We won a MAKE Editor's Choice Award...again!". LittleBits. LittleBits. Retrieved 20 February 2015. 
  26. ^ Raymond, Chris. "25 Makers Who Are Reinventing The American Dream". Popularmechanics.com. Popular Mechanics. Retrieved 20 February 2015. 
  27. ^ Campbell-Dollaghan, Kelsey. "The DIY Champion". Fast Company. Fast Company. Retrieved 20 February 2015. 

External links[edit]