LittleBits isn’t going to stop until every one of you can make your own alarm clock.
The New York-based hardware startup creates snapable electronics modules, which it uses to take the intimidation out of making circuits and device prototypes. As one writer put it, this is Lego for the iPad generation.
While LittleBits’ goal so far has been to build out its module library — which is at 45 items currently — the company is now raising $11.1 million to go in a different direction: making its modules a platform for other hardware makers.
“While we use electronics every day, there’s been no real way to prototype our own devices. Yet right now you can take a three-hour class and suddenly you’re 3D printing. We want to do that for electronics” LittleBits CEO Ayah Bdeir told VentureBeat.
The allusion to 3D printing isn’t accidental. Just as consumer 3D printers like MakerBot’s Replicator have made it easier for anyone to prototype and manufacture their own 3D objects, Bdeir’s vision for LittleBits is an ecosystem where anyone can create their own complex pieces of electronics with minimal effort.
And it just might work, too. One of the big reasons why MakerBot has been so successful is that the company has appealed to not only hobbyists but to educators and kids as well. And that’s the same trio of demographics that LittleBits is going after.
“This hardware revolution is only going to mean something if it reaches consumers — not just developers,” Bdeir said.
While Bdier wouldn’t say exactly how the next few months of LittleBits will look, products like the new LittleBits Synth Kit are a pretty good hint. The $160 module set, which was developed in part by instrument maker Korg, has already been used by musicians like Reggie Watts to make professional-sounding tracks.
In other words, while LittleBits may create products that look like toys, what people create with them will be far more complex. So you might say that this is just the beginning.
Littlebits’s latest funding round was led by True Ventures and Foundry Group and was joined new investors Two Sigma Ventures and Vegas Tech Fund. Khosla Ventures, Mena Ventures, Neoteny Labs, O’Reilly AlphaTech, and Lerer Ventures also participated in the round. To date, Littlebits has raised over $15 million.