littleBits’ new Smart Home Kit brings internet of things home to roost

19 Nov 2014

Modular electronics player littleBits, which has revolutionised technology learning for kids and adults alike, has created a DIY Smart Home Kit that will make any dumb appliance in the home smart.

littleBits, which was founded by MIT graduate Ayah Bdeir to enable people to build inventions by snapping together pieces of electronics, is building on its recent cloudBit launch, which lets people snap the internet to anything.

The idea is any appliance in the home can become a 21st-century marvel that can be controlled wirelessly.

The kit allows home dwellers to build smart-home devices, such as smart fridges, wireless lamps and even connected curtains.

The kit contains 14 Bits, including five new modules: MP3 Player, Threshold, Number, Temperature Sensor and IR Transmitter. It comes with 11 accessories, including a new AC switch.

A smartphone-connected wireless lamp built using the Smart Home Kit

An automated kitty feeder built using the Smart Home Kit

The Smart Home Kit will retail for US$249 online, as well in select RadioShack stores across the US.

Making ‘dumb’ homes ‘smart’ is a potential US$71bn industry

In 2013, there were a mere 5.5m connected homes in the United States. In the next two years, that number will increase to more than 31m, with the market poised to become a US$71bn industry by 2018.

littleBits reasons that throwing away perfectly good home products, such as coffee machines and refrigerators, in favour of new smart versions is wasteful.

With the launch of the littleBits Smart Home Kit, an industry that has been the domain of expert installers and required steep financial investments, is now accessible to everyone.

“Our mission is to put the power of electronics in the hands of everyone, and to break down complex technologies so that anyone can build, prototype, and invent. Democratising the smart-home industry is one more step in delivering on that promise,” said Bdeir, founder and CEO of littleBits.

“The Smart Home Kit is giving people the power and opportunity to take the internet of things movement into their own hands, and bring their home to the 21st century, on their own terms.

“Now you can recreate a popular smart device, retrofit an old appliance, or invent something entirely new that may be the next big thing,” Bdeir said.

Interview with Ayah Bdeir at the recent Web Summit in Dublin

The Web Summit 2014: Interview with Ayah Bdeir of littleBits Electronics

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years