Remember the last time you decided to fix one of your own gadgets and found that the only successful part of your experiment was figuring out how to take it apart with the detailed instructions of a YouTube video? Manufacturers purposely seal their products to discourage curious tinkerers from performing DIY repairs. However, even though tech companies innovate our devices with their impenetrable forces of wizardry, you no longer have to wonder what goes on behind the scenes of the enclosed boxes of hardware.
If you wish to channel your inner-engineer, a new company called LittleBits allows you to release the tinkerer within. LittleBits invites novices to form part of the “Hardware Revolution” with color-coded kits that include a milieu of accessories such as motors, lights, switches, connectors, sensors, controls and buzzers. These Lego-type building blocks quickly snap on to each other with their magnetized edges and the
best part of all is that you don’t need an engineering background to understand how to make the pieces work together. Though these candy-colored pieces were originally developed for adults, they have been re-packaged to attract children as well.
Its latest kit, CloudBit, connects your electronics to the internet so that you can remotely control them. From setting the temperature of your air conditioners to designing a contraption that feeds your fish, littleBit’s utility is only limited by your imagination.
The next generation of Legos promises to re-entice American children in the fields of technology and engineering. Engineer Ayah Bdeir, founder of littleBits, began the project with the aim of dispersing transistors to people who are not considered ‘experts’. She has essentially brought egalitarianism to transistors, the building blocks of hardware.
In a CNN interview, she clarifies how the color palette was “not designed for boys [and] how it [naturally] became gender-neutral”. She admits a hidden agenda to the overall aesthetic of her product which has been designed so as to not deter girls.
Google recently held a meeting this past July that called attention to the gender gap which revealed that only 30% of Google employees are women and that only 17% of the sample worked in tech. Many tech companies will not even publish their diversity figures due to fear of public backslash but the trend is not surprising considering the current shortage of female programmers.
Companies have been advised to form strong relationships with colleges and universities and remove male-specific language in their interviewing funnel. In a Glassdoor report, one woman reported feeling uncomfortable while Dropbox interviewed her next to a room they named ‘The Bromance Chamber’.
LittleBits not only promises to entice girls, but users from all walks of life who are curious about how the internal infrastructure of their most prized devices work.