LONG BEACH, Calif -- With kids spending an increasing amount of time with technology, one company is developing LEGO-like toys that help them understand how devices like iPads and cell phones actually work.
The founder of littleBits has designed a system of electronic modules that snap together with magnets. They can easily create everything from cowboy hats with temperature-activated fans to confetti cannonballs that go off when motion is detected.
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“We want to encourage kids and adults that have an interest in technology but no training to be able to make things quickly and get excited about learning,” said Ayah Bdier, the founder of littleBits, who spoke earlier this week at TED.
Here’s how it works in a nutshell: there are four different types of modules – power, input, output and wire. A starter kit that includes 10 modules sells for $89 on the littleBits site, Amazon and ThinkGeek. Additional modules like light sensors, dimmers and fans are available individually, with most priced around $20 each.
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Then it’s up to you to get creative, connecting the modules to the supplies that make up your project. Here’s a video demonstrating how the confetti cannon and cowboy cool-down hat came together:
LittleBits started as a research project in 2008 and only incorporated last year. It already has some notable investors, including Joi Ito and Nicholas Negroponte. The New York-based company currently has seven employees.
The idea is to make do-it-yourself electronics incredibly simple. But Bdeir also wants to make it easier to find project inspiration and get step-by-step instructions. In March, littleBits will launch an online community so its users can share their creations and get ideas from others.
“It basically is going to fuel the community of people that want to learn from each other and start to build more complex things and be creative,” she said.
This story originally published on Mashable here.