LittleBits Launches An App Store To Build Your Own Hardware


Reposted from Forbes:

“LittleBits CEO Ayah Bdeir’s library of electronics modules make it simple for anyone to create hardware, whether that anyone is a grade-schooler learning about circuits or an engineer prototyping an invention. Now they are introducing they’re own version of the App Store, a platform that could turn a product into a flourishing ecosystem by giving developers the tools and the incentive to contribute their own creativity to its offerings. Bdeir calls the bitLab, which officially launches today, “the first marketplace for user-generated hardware.” Anyone with a working prototype of a new Bit can submit it for community consideration. LittleBits will take the ones receiving the most votes, vet them for viability and put them into production, with the creators receiving a 10% royalty.

“We’re breaking down the barriers of entering the field of hardware,” says Bdeir. “We want to democratize the hardware industry, to revolutionize it and make it accessible.” While anyone with a laptop and a little coding skill can make an app, and 3-D printing is opening up manufacturing, “the hardware industry hasn’t gone through that,” Bdeir says. “It’s still largely closed, very top down, really prohibitive to non-engineers.” The bitLab is an evolutionary successor to dreamBits, a forum where littleBits users can suggest new modules they’d like to see produced. (Current suggestions include a humidity sensor, a Bluetooth transmitter and a video camera.)

Partners who took part in the bitLab beta include MaKey MaKey, which contributed a module that turns fruits into inputs for a musical synthesizer. Founded as a Kickstarter project, MaKey MaKey’s mission is to “turn everyday objects into touchpads.” It may not be obvious how turning a banana into a touchpad is useful to anyone — but finding a use for it is the job of littleBits users. That’s the difference between a product and a platform. ”The idea for us is that our R&D department goes from being the ten engineers we have here to the entire world,” says Bdeir. “The library becomes more powerful with every new bit that comes into it.”

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