What happens when you get overly inspired by legos and analog synthesizers? You end up producing the Korg LittleBits Synth Kit.
LittleBits aims to bring the power of engineers to artists and designers. Inspired by concrete blocks and legos, LittleBits is a serious of attachment electronic building blocks that can be used to quickly create new ideas. The inventor of Little Bits, Ayeh Bdeih explains in her TED talk.
LittleBits is currently in the storefront at the MOMA store in New York, and has reached classrooms around the country. The company recently received 4.5 million dollars in funding. The announced a partnership with Synthesizer maker Korg, and have future partnerships in the works. Ayah Bdeih even did an “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit.
The idea of modular building blocks has been around since the 70s. So why did this project take off, instead of being relegated to bottom corner of Radio Shack?
Or even seedstudio, a competitor that costs half as much.
Here are ten thoughts why Little Bits is so successful – feel free to add more in the comments.
1. It was born from a place with a proven track record
The project was born at the MIT media lab. An institution that where hard-working folks are known to develop innovative products. Rather than link to a specific project, check out what is featured on their front page today.
2. And then fostered in an incubation hub
After reaching a stable prototype, the outfit moved its operations to New York. There they had access to people with expertise in manufacturing, fund-raising, educational outreach and cultural institutions.
3. They sell the dream of what the product can create rather than the product itself
The highlight what can be created, and then explain the steps and materials needed. Fun with Pumpkin sounds way better than “5 pack of sensors.”
4. Its Fashionable
The color scheme of the components is simply eye catching. Those colors invoke curiosity, along with the playful purple font they use.
5. Its accessible to a first grader and a PhD
Kids seem to wonder how these things fit together and work. Adults wonder how the form factor of electronics were put into a plastic piece.
6. Its possible to make something right away
Right from the box, its possible to make a light or a blinker circuit. Before the direction book is opened, something is made.
7. Reward is added to every step in the process
Art is added to each step of technical process. A rewarding click is provided at each step, and the pieces are visually aligned. Adding nice alignment to a conventional electronics circuit adds a time cost to getting this finished.
8. The learning curve is reasonable
It takes a few seconds to get started, but then its possible to quickly ramp up in complexity at your own pace.
9. Public Outreach has been amazing
Once the TED talk happened, the concept spread like wild fire. This project is planned to reach over 500 classrooms and has a great educational package.
With more projects planned with Korg and Arduino, its clear that these kits are only the beginning of where little bits will go. Electronics is a game of scale.
As the number of units increases, costs can go down. Right now, spending $150 for a toy for a kid is a bit much, but as little bits scales its manufacturing with its popularity, the price point will drop. At that price, its not just buying a product, but supporting a movement to bring new science and technology toys to classrooms and curious inventors alike.