06 April 2012

littleBits ~ Ayah Bdeir on Interactive Hardware

Excellent to have MIT Media Lab alumna entrepreneur Ayah Bdeir share her experiences in the Computing Culture group and most recently building littleBits -- both product and her startup! She's figuring out how electronics can enable creativity -- how can they be provocative, transparent, accessible. This means working towards object-oriented hardware, an idea paralleling object-oriented software with qualities like modularity, openness, big library, standard interfaces, and more. She gave some lovely examples of prior art, including Dieter Rams' Lectron. LittleBits modules just snap together with guiding magnets, simple interconnects, and lots of playful parts. The key is shifting from component-level view of the pieces to the interaction quality and experiences of the pieces -- i.e. not the LED but light, not the motor but the motion, not the capacitor but touch-sensing. So not object-oriented but interaction-oriented hardware. Check it out! She also shared the saga of developing and refining from 2008 to 2011 of all the elements, the color coda, magnetic interconnections, and overall business -- not easy! Ayah also showed some lovely videos of very young kids playing with littleBits -- baby engineers!-)

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